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How to Write Complaint Letters

Aim:
This page describes the content, language and organisation of letters of complaint. There are also example letters and an exercise. There is a different page on how to reply to complaint letters.

Introduction

Letters of complaint usually include the following stages:

  1. Background
  2. Problem - cause and effect
  3. Solution
  4. Warning (optional)
  5. Closing
      
  1. Background
    This section describes the situation; e.g.
    • I am writing to inform you that the goods we ordered from your company have not been supplied correctly.
    • I attended your exhibition Sound Systems at the Fortune Hotel (22-25 January) and found it informative and interesting. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the event was spoiled by a number of organisational problems.
    • I am a shareholder of Sunshine Bank and I am very concerned regarding recent newspaper reports on the financial situation of the bank. Your company is listed as the auditor in the latest annual report of the bank, so I am writing to you to ask for an explanation of the following issues.
    • I am writing to inform you of my dissatisfaction with the food and drinks at the 'European Restaurant' on 18 January this year.
  2. Problem
      Cause:
    • On we placed an order with your firm for 12,000 ultra super long-life batteries. The consignment arrived yesterday but contained only 1,200 batteries.
    • Firstly, I had difficulty in registering to attend the event. You set up an on-line registration facility, but I found the facility totally unworkable.
    • You sent us an invoice for $10,532, but did not deduct our usual 10% discount.
    • We have found 16 spelling errors and 2 mis-labelled diagrams in the sample book. 

      Effect:

    • This error put our firm in a difficult position, as we had to make some emergency purchases to fulfil our commitments to all our customers. This caused us considerable inconvenience.
    • Even after spending several wasted hours trying to register in this way, the computer would not accept my application.
    • I am therefore returning the invoice to you for correction.
    • This large number of errors is unacceptable to our customers, and we are therefore unable to sell these books.

  3. Solution
    • I am writing to ask you to please make up the shortfall immediately and to ensure that such errors do not happen again.
    • Could I please ask you to look into these matters.
    • Please send us a corrected invoice for $9,479
    • I enclose a copy of the book with the errors highlighted. Please re-print the book and send it to us by next Friday.
       
  4. Warning (optional)
    • Otherwise, we may have to look elsewhere for our supplies.
    • I'm afraid that if these conditions are not met, we may be forced to take legal action.
    • If the outstanding fees are not paid by you will incur a 10% late payment fee.
        
  5. Closing
    • I look forward to receiving your explanation of these matters.
    • I look forward to receiving your payment.
    • I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

     

Politeness
The tone of complaint letters should not be aggressive or insulting, as this would annoy the reader and not encourage them to solve the problem. In addition, questions such as 'Why can't you get this right?' should not be included.

Content

  • The content should contain enough details so that the receiver does not have to write back requesting more.
  • Legal action is not normally threatened in the first letter of complaint, unless the situation is very serious.

Example letters

Fortune Goods
317 Orchard Road
Singapore


Attn: Mr David Choi
Sales Manager
Everlong Batteries
171 Choi Hung Road
Hung Hom
Hong Kong

Dear Mr Choi

Re. Order No. 768197

I am writing to inform you that the goods we ordered from your company have not been supplied correctly.

On we placed an order with your firm for 12,000 ultra super long-life batteries. The consignment arrived yesterday but contained only 1,200 batteries.

This error put our firm in a difficult position, as we had to make some emergency purchases to fulfil our commitments to all our customers. This caused us considerable inconvenience.

I am writing to ask you to please make up the shortfall immediately and to ensure that such errors do not happen again. Otherwise, we may have to look elsewhere for our supplies.

I look forward to hearing from you by return.

Yours sincerely

     J. Wong

J. Wong
Purchasing Officer

 
 
Flat 303 Lucky Mansions
856 Cheung Sha Wan Road
Cheung Sha Wan
Kowloon

The Administrative Officer
Exhibition Services
Exhibitions International
33 Kadoorie Avenue
Kowloon

Dear Sir/Madam

I attended your exhibition Sound Systems at the Fortune Hotel from and found it informative and interesting. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the event was spoiled by a number of organisational problems. I explain each of the problems below.

Firstly, I had difficulty in registering to attend the event. You set up an on-line registration facility, but I found the facility totally unworkable. Even after spending several wasted hours trying to register in this way, the computer would not accept my application. I eventually succeeded in registering by faxing you.

Secondly, the exhibition was held at one of Hong Kong's most prestigious hotels, but frankly the venue was better suited to a medium-sized business conference than to a large exhibition open by registration to the public. The lack of space led to serious overcrowding in the venue, particularly at peak visiting times (i.e. lunch times and early evening). On one or two occasions I was also seriously concerned about the physical safety of attendees.

The final point I want to make concerns product information. It is very enjoyable to see and test a range of excellent sound systems, but it is also important to be able to take away leaflets on interesting products, so that more research can be done before deciding which system to buy. However, by the time I attended the exhibition all the leaflets had been taken.

Could I please ask you to look into these matters - not only on my behalf but also on behalf of other attendees, and in fact on behalf of your company, too.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Michael Leung

Michael Leung


 

Instructions:

Choose parts of the letter from the Contents column to build the letter of enquiry in the Letter column. Then click the 'Show Feedback' button at the bottom to see comments on your letter.

Contents

Letter

Position of your address:

Position of date:

Format of date:

Salutation:

Subject Heading Content:

Paragraph Style:

Paragraph 1, Sentence 1:
a) I am writing to complain about the punctuality, quality and customer service on your local tour of New Territories tourist attractions.
b) Your tour of the New Territories was a disaster.
c) I am writing to complain about a tour of the new Territories organised by your company.

Paragraph 2, Sentence 1:
a) The food was disgusting and gave me and my family bad stomachs. I had to take a day off work.
b) After lunch my family and I did not feel well due to bad stomach pains. I was forced to take sick leave next day, and I enclose a copy of the doctor's note.
c) The lunch was horrible. Why didn't you book a decent restaurant?

Final Paragraph:
a) I demand compensation.
b) Due to the discomfort and inconvenience, I request compensation for the doctor's fees to the amount of $316.
c) I hereby notify you that I intend to take you to court for compensation, and you will shortly be receiving a letter from my lawyer.

Closing
a) Thanks.
b) I look forward to hearing from you.
c) Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

Sign off:

171 Choi Hung Road
Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Tel/Fax: 2235 2449

Related pages:

Complaint letters:

Adjustment letters:

 

Last updated on: Friday, October 17, 2014