How To Write Effective Complaints

Writing Effective Complaints consists of 10 key steps.

  1. A Pen
    Be Business-like: Type your letter on your own stationery using your own personal letterhead. Most word processing programs make completing this stuff a breeze!

  2. Include contact information and the date on each page: If you write a multi-page letter, be sure to include your name and contact information on each page. Even if you mail a multipage letter stapled, it might become unstapled as it travels through departments. You always want to make sure that you can be reached through your correspondence.

  3. Address your letter to a real person, and CC (carbon copy) key people: "To Whom It May Concern" generally concerns no one. There are plenty of ways that you can find the right person to address your effective complaint letter to, plus if you specify a specific person, that increases the likelihood that person will take ownership of your issue and see that it gets successfully resolved.

  4. Start with a good lead-in story: Like with news headlines, a good opening paragraph is an excellent way to engage the reader of your effective complaint letter, and get them to finish reading your letter and take action! This is also a great time to drop the name of an important person or key contact within the company that you've dealt with and/or addressed additional correspondence to.

  5. Clearly state the problem: Be direct and give the facts in a concise manner.

  6. Back up your facts with documentation whenever possible: Especially when dealing with past purchases, but remember to only send copies and never your original files or paperwork.

  7. Ask for what you want (Be reasonable): Since a complaint is an expression of unmet expectation, be sure to state what you want and how your expectation can be effectively met. Just be sure that your request is reasonable and provides compensation that is comparable to your dissatisfaction.

  8. Set a deadline for response (Again be reasonable): Be sure to specify a specific timeframe for a response, and include what will be your next steps (e.g. filing a complaint with your State's Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau, or going to the local media, etc.) if your deadline isn't met.

  9. Watch your tone (Be friendly, but firm): Use a professional tone, and don't use profanity or antagonizing language (i.e. if you make threats, be sure that you can back them up).

  10. Be sure to follow up if your deadline for a response has passed: Followthrough is key.

Disclaimer: We don't write complaint letters for you, nor do we claim to be legal experts. We're just regular people trying to do what we can to help our fellow consumers.