How To Complain Effectively

Thursday Oct 26th, 2017


If you’re complaining to your friend or significant other about an unsatisfactory product or service, stop complaining to them – and put your complaint in writing.  It’s well worth your time:  At best you’ll get an appropriate response from the supplier or service provider and possibly help them correct a problem; at worst, you’ll have downloaded your negative thoughts to paper or email instead of carrying them around.  Here’s how to complain effectively:

Don’t be sloppy – it lowers your credibility.  If you’re using regular mail, type your letter on plain 8½ x 11-inch paper.  Paper or electronic, be sure to proof it at least twice.

Complain as quickly as possible.  The longer you wait to log a complaint, the less urgent your request will seem.

Include your address, phone number (day and evening), and email address to make it easy to get in touch with you.

Always address the letter to a person.  Call the company and say, “I’d like to send a letter about an experience I had at (location) or with (product).  To whom should I address it?”  While you’re on the phone, verify the mail or email address.

Don’t write only to complain; suggest a solution.  Request a refund, repair, apology, or replacement.

List relevant details.  For example, dates, times, place of purchase, employees you dealt with, product name, serial number, warranty, etc.

Document.  Include a copy of your receipt, canceled checks, billing statements, and other relevant items like warranties.  Keep the originals in a safe place.

Be brief.  Outline the problem in a succinct manner.  Don’t talk about how angry you are – the reader will be put off.  Instead, detail how you’ve been inconvenienced.

Specify a response deadline.  Two weeks is reasonable.

Keep trying.  If you don’t receive a response within the time you requested, send a second letter or email.  This time, send it (with a copy of the original) to a manager, company president, or CEO.  If you still don’t get a response, consider contacting the Better Business Bureau for advice.


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