Complain About Laws, Policies, or Inefficiencies - Letters

Example Letter #1

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This spring I requested a yard waste recycling can, which I promptly paid for upon delivery. It was my understanding that the waste would be picked up each Monday and taken to the city recycling site, but I have observed that my yard waste is being dumped into the regular household garbage truck and hauled to the landfill. I object to this breach of trust. Please see that the yard waste is indeed recycled, or refund my money.

Example Letter #2

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I am upset that the city council cannot see the need for a light at the intersection of Main and Second Avenue. Because of all the growth in the last year, the traffic at that intersection has increased tenfold. Drivers become frustrated waiting for an opening in traffic to make a turn. It's just a matter of time before someone dies trying. Please have a traffic light installed at that intersection before it's too late. You will be the most appreciated councilman in Springfield, if you do. Thank you.

Example Letter #3

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I would like to register a complaint regarding the ridiculous traffic enforcement practices adopted the last three Thursday evenings at the intersection of Main and Elm streets in Springfield. On Thursdays Doe's Tavern holds an informal "Cruise In" and sells tacos at half price with the profits donated to a variety of charities. The participants, owners and admirers of customized cars and motorcycles, enjoy the weekly event because of the opportunity to show off and admire the vehicles in a friendly atmosphere. On the last three Thursdays, however, Springfield's finest have blocked Elm Street at Main to all traffic from the south. This is done, the officers say, to prevent backups at this intersection. The roadblock necessitates a long detour around the north side of Springfield, and the backup created by the roadblock stretched much further than it ever did before this enforcement began. The resentment and tension among the Cruise In's participants is an unhealthy byproduct of this silly policy. The weekly event has existed for over four years with a minimum of problems; there have been more confrontations between motorists and police as a result of this enforcement than in the last four years combined. I would very much like to see an official review of this enforcement practice. Look specifically at the efficiency of the roadblock. If the police wish to shut down Doe's Cruise In, let them attempt to do so through viable, straightforward means.

Example Letter #4

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I am unsettled by the city's lopsided enforcement of animal control laws. It is common practice for pet owners to be cited and fined for walking their pets without a leash, regardless of the pet's level of obedience. Yet, if a neighbor's dog is penned up cruelly in a yard and barks 24 hours a day, the owner faces no penalty, even in response to multiple complaints to city police and animal control officers. I would like to see a better system of response to complaints of barking or menacing dogs in the neighborhoods. Please see that this issue is discussed in the next City Council meeting. Thank you.

Letter-Writing Tips

Clear and concise letters are an effective way of making your concerns known to politicians and bureaucrats. Your letter will most likely be answered if you discuss specific concerns as opposed to political issues. Control the tone of your letter carefully.

Step-by-Step Guide

1 Briefly summarize the essence of your complaint.

Sentences
  • I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the current move to sell off Federal lands in the West to private speculators.
  • I am having a hard time understanding what is so difficult about filling in the pot holes on our street.
  • I am very concerned about your lack of support for AIDS research.
  • I would like to register a complaint against John Doe, a city building inspector, who apparently follows his own version of the Uniform Building Code.
  • Your speech last Friday left me very disappointed in your attitude towards the homeless in our community.
  • I am upset that a good share of my family farm will be considered "wetlands," making it illegal for me to grow crops on it.
Phrases
  • am deeply resentful about
  • am extremely disappointed in
  • am very concerned about
  • am having a hard time understanding
  • am most upset that
  • at an unfair disadvantage
  • can no longer ignore the
  • feel most dissatisfied about
  • find it disturbing, to say the least, that
  • find it necessary to
  • has come to my notice that
  • have become increasingly concerned
  • have difficulty in understanding
  • it seems unreasonable that
  • it is high time that
  • may I remind you that
  • was astonished to learn
  • was disturbed to learn of
  • wish to call your attention to
  • wish to protest vigorously about
  • would like to register a complaint

2 Provide all necessary details surrounding the case. Give reasons, arguments, cases and examples to explain the problems you see in the laws, policies, or practices.

Sentences
  • Federal lands are a public trust, and while it may have been expedient a hundred years ago to make acquisition of the lands cheap and easy, today the situation is radically different.
  • The pot holes on my street are unsightly, dangerous, and costly. I see car after car damaged by running into the holes or swerving dangerously to avoid them. In addition, the longer the holes are left unfilled the more damage is done to the pavement and base.
  • During the campaign last year you made it clear that you supported family values. I took you at your word and worked hard to get my friends and acquaintances to vote for you. Now, however, you seem to be singing a different tune.
  • Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away or reduce the victims' suffering.
  • Doe inspected the framing on a house I am building at 123 Elm Street, and to my surprise he claimed there were "all kinds of problems." I have been building houses in this area for thirty years, and I know the requirements in the code. Inspector Doe seems to be making up his own rules as he goes along, which is becoming a form of harassment.
Phrases
  • an increasingly heavy burden
  • becoming the exception rather than the rule
  • economic and social dislocations
  • favoring our competitors
  • harassing hardworking taxpayers
  • ignoring constitutional rights
  • inefficient use of tax monies
  • innocent victims of
  • is just a matter of time before
  • is a public trust
  • making up new rules
  • need to face the facts
  • problem is not going to go away
  • rates climb ever higher
  • recognize this as an ill-advised attempt to
  • result of a misunderstanding of
  • result of giving low priority to
  • singing a different tune
  • situation has changed radically
  • situation is becoming untenable
  • this heavy-handed approach to
  • thought an agreement had been reached
  • took you at your word
  • unfortunate state of affairs
  • would be tragic to ignore
  • you made it clear that

3 Clearly outline what action you would like the reader to take and urge immediate action toward solving the problem.

Sentences
  • For the sake of justice and our quality of life, please learn more about our situation before you vote. Senator Doe would be a good person to talk to about the West.
  • Please send a crew out immediately before the situation (and the liability to the city) gets totally out of hand.
  • Please think carefully about the difference between so-called "free speech" issues and the need to protect children from pornography on the Internet.
  • A copy of the violations Inspector Doe found is attached. I acknowledge responsibility for items 3 and 5, and I appreciate his thoroughness in identifying those areas. They have already been repaired. The other ten items, however, are pure fantasy. I would appreciate a second opinion, preferably from a more experienced inspector.
  • I will appreciate your looking into this matter and making the necessary corrections.
Phrases
  • become more informed on
  • before the situation gets out of hand
  • consider enacting an ordinance to
  • correct this inequity
  • eagerly await your response
  • expect to see a considerable improvement
  • feel that a change is warranted
  • is certainly worthy of investigation
  • looking into this matter
  • need to set standards for
  • need to act immediately
  • should be repealed
  • suggest that you support
  • take the matter in hand
  • think carefully about
  • this must be stopped
  • trust that you will address these
  • urge you to reconsider
  • urge you to vote against
  • would appreciate your

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