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How to write a Complaint Letter

How to Write a Complaint Letter

Writing a complaint letter or rather writing effective complaint letter is the one thing to be taken notice of. Otherwise writing complaint letters is just like writing any other type of letter. There are certain criteria like tone, grammar and other criteria mentioned below before we can sit to write down a Complaint Letter. Depending upon the need, the format is subject to variation. However, the below mentioned formats are the most common one.

Complaint Letter Formats

Complaint Letter Writing Tips

Complaint Letter Formats                

 

Format of Complaint Letter Writing

Before one starts to write a covering letter, it is important to know its format or its essential features.

Just like most of other letter formats, a letter of complaint also has basic format or rule of writing. Only the subject matter, content and certain other criteria need to be followed.

Complaint letters have a Header, Introduction, Body and Closing.

Organisation LetterheadLetter Head
OR
Your Name
Your Address (can be positioned left, right or centre)

Date
(can be positioned left, right or centre, before, after Reference or at the start)

Recipient’s Name (specific official or person)
Recipient’s Address (can be positioned left, right or centre)

 

Reference or Subject (as required)Letter Body

Dear Recipient (Salutation)

First Paragraph – Your purchase, order, service to be complained

Second Paragraph – Details of amount involved, dates, people concerned etc.

Third Paragraph – Your expectations and experience

Call to Action – Request for rectification of the complaint

 

Subscription – Thanking you, yours sincerely etc.Letter Closing

Your First Name Last Name

ENCL (optional) stands for ‘Enclosure’ i.e. attached documents

CC (as required) stands for Carbon Copy, i.e. same copy to many

 

Complaint Letter Format 2

Organisation LetterheadLetter Head

Date
(can be positioned left, right or centre, before, after Reference or at the start)

Attn: Recipient’s Name (specific official or person)


Recipient’s Address (can be positioned left, right or centre)

 

 

Reference or Subject (as required)Letter Body

Dear Recipient (Salutation)

First Paragraph – Your purchase, order, service to be complained

Second Paragraph – Details of amount involved, dates, people concerned etc.

Third Paragraph – Your expectations and experience

Call to Action – Request for rectification of the complaint

 

Subscription – Thanking you, yours sincerely etc.Letter Closing

Your First Name Last Name

Your Signature

Your Designation

ENCL (optional) stands for ‘Enclosure’ i.e. attached documents

CC (as required) stands for Carbon Copy, i.e. same copy to many
Tips for Writing a Complaint Letter

One writes letter of complaint based on his individual requirements and the desired results. Based on this it is important to know the tone of the language you need to have.

Approach Strategy – It is important to know the ‘State of your Complaint’. Are you writing for the First Time, Second time etc? How much have you been harassed, the extent of losses you have incurred, has your complaint letter not responded and various other factors. How can you influence the party into acting upon your terms and how can you get the best out of the situation at hand. All these and other factors are determined the way your letter is composed and presented.

  • Authority – If you want your letter to have a commanding appeal and the message should come across with force then you can use the authoritative approach. You only need to resort to such strategy if and when you feel harassed or you are being taken for granted. There is no need to use abusive language but your anger and your grit should come across. You can threaten them of legal action with all the relevant consequences like – a hefty fine, the relevant legal acts, mention of cases similar to yours, a copy of court order (if you have one) etc. This is to intimidate the guilty party to consider you as a real threat and make them realise their mistake. You can also send any news items from newspapers or journals, acknowledgment of your righteousness from a legal expert, lawyer or a journalist. All this is also done to punch in some creditability.
  • Basic – A basic approach is to be utilised as an initial step. Because this is your first step towards refund you need to be concise and to the point. Don’t beg or plead but request in a polite manner. Do mention your grievances but don’t make an essay out of it. Your main objective is to be understood easily and quickly so that the process also becomes easy and quick. Basic information should include – Description of the product/service with its name, serial number, the date and place of purchase. Mention the problem, its history, specific action, copies of only Xeroxed documents not originals.
  • Constructive – Sometimes you are aware of the dubious intentions of the guilty party and you don’t want to offend them but at the same time you also want to get your job done from them. This can be due to the corrupt and influential nature of the offending party. Because of their reputation they must be used to threats and other abuses so you need to act different even when you don’t want to; after all your real motive is to prevent your loss and not lengthen it. Be polite and use sugar coated words. Entice them with your literary skills like ‘Mistakes do happen’, ‘It is Human to err..’, ‘Not everything is Prefect’ and similar adages. Coax them and encourage them to take the required action. Kill them softly with the positive tone of your language. This way they will feel guilty but not offended; after all we all have a heart. Create a pleasant environment and please the reader to take a quick action.
  • Factual – Many of us are technical experts and we know the solution. Here you can use of your technical expertise to not only highlight the problem but also offer solution or solutions. This enables the prompt action as the opposing side has a pre-sight to a problem and will attempt to sort it out the way you have advised. Though, they do have a protocol to follow the standard procedure. By offering a sound advice you saves time not only theirs but yours as well. Your background can be backed by the Letterhead you use or a reference to your solution. These attachments and relevant details also impress the defaulters to initiate a quick action as they know that they are dealing with a genuine professional.
  • Friendly – Being friendly whilst complaining ‘Sounds out of this World’ but this is another positive approach to get your things done, the easy way. Consider the reader as your friend; you will be considerate, cheerful, warm, and informal and so on. Representative addressing your complain work under pressure because they have to hear a lot of trash from clients. Few friendly words can change the whole scenario. You can use a short moving anecdote to make way into the heart of the representative so that they understand your problem and are willing to get the issue resolved. Apart from the standard procedure you can use expressions like ‘We all have Duties to Perform’, ‘This World is a Weird Place’, ‘We all are Beast of Burden’ and similar lines. Make them feel you are also on the same track as they are. This way, the reader will be eager to help and solve the issue.

Typed Letter and Handwritten Letters – It is better to have a Typed or Computer printed Letter than a handwritten one. We all have different types of handwriting and it may not be legible to the reader. But computer printed text is neat and clear.

Check your Grammar – Write to the point and don’t use language which is doesn’t confuse the reader. Use short paragraphs. Don’t use abbreviated words unless you are sure the reader will understand it. Don’t use slang words as these are not part of the established english grammar. Check your spellings to put an extra impression on the reader.

Hard Copy better than Soft Copy – When complaining it is better to use a hard copy which means a Paper Letter and not Email. Though email can be used but one can give various technical excuses like net not working, mail not received, inbox full, out of office reply and various others. Sending a conventional letter may take time but by making these mandatory with acknowledgment return slip makes sure its delivery. The same can be used as an evidence of the negligence of the firm. You can send both to make your complaint noticed.   

Absence or Presence of Letterhead - If you use a Letterhead, don't need to include your address at the top. If you're sending an email for thanks you don't need to include addresses and the date at the top of the e-mail editor box.

Complain it in Time – This is especially essential for complaints regarding products which are covered under a warranty period. It becomes more essential when you have purchased anything from the internet as these have time limit within which they accept defective parts or products.

Attach essential Documents – The consumers should always enclose the photocopies of documents like agreements, hard copies of email received, earlier complaint letters, receipts, warranty etc. to make appeal strong and with proof of how incompetence of the system. Keep original copies of all your letters, faxes, e-mails, and related documents.

Proofreading - Take the time to review your Letter, rewrite or reprint if need arises. Take a break for 1-2 hours to start afresh and add anything you have missed.  You can also get it reviewed from your friends and family to get their feedback.

How to End a Complaint Letter

Ending or closing a letter of complaint depends on your experience with the concerned. It is obvious that you are not pleased because you were not expecting it. Moreover, it becomes an extra burden considering the busy lives we all have. Yet you have to be courteous. Here you have to be tricky as you want both to vent out your angst and be nice at the same time. Fortunately, there are words which you can use to effectively show both. Use humorous sarcasm or plain sarcasm to add a pinch of salt. Further you can offer ‘Negative Publicity’ through your social network or business circle. Use Double Quotes, Single Quotes tp put stress on the words. You can use ALL CAPS to stress on certain words, you can highlight them, underline or make them Bold. If you aren’t expecting any refund or apology, go ahead and vent out your stress and angst in the most offending way.

Some Lines to end your complaint letter:
  • Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.
  • I look forward to your reply within the next 7 days. I am sure you will pay heed to my request before i seek help from consumer protection agency or a lawyer. Please contact me at the following address. You can also contact me at my email address.
  • I must congratulate your company; it has not only broken records but my heart as well. And i thought ‘My Heart was made of Steel’. Thanks for removing this misconception from my mind. I will recommend yours to all those who have such misconceptions about themselves.
  • I had heard that you provided ‘Ordinary Service’ but ‘Poor Service’ was unheard of. I was fine with ‘Ordinary’ but sorry to say i don’t want to get used to ‘Poor Service’. So consider this as my last and final dealing with you and I’ll make sure that others are also done with you.
  • It is not hard to ‘Reach the Top’ but to maintain your-self at the top is the real task. My experience with you proves that.
  • ‘What goes Up, Must come Down’ and what perfect example as that of your airlines. It not only comes down to land but it also sinks down to our expectations.
  • I generally don’t threaten because i am not intimidating person. But your lousy attitude intimidates me and i reciprocate to that very well. And you know how? By a lawsuit and i am sure that you don’t want that, considering that i am willing to take this issue to my grave, if i have to!
  • I have treaded on this road before and i am quite used to it. So take it easy because i am a not only a ‘Long Distance Runner’ but also a ‘Long Distance Dragger’.
  • Complacent was a Dish i hadn't heard of until i stepped into your restairant. I must say 'It is best served at your restaurant'.

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