Letters of complaint are the ones that I often compose in my head and seldom send. I am sure you all know those moments when you’re overcome with irritation with your telecommunications provider or whoever who has let you down. Usually, the irritation passes and you move on.
When to write a letter of complaint
Occasionally we do need to write or submit a complaint online when we want to:
- Have the problem fixed
- Receive compensation
- Prevent other people sharing our experience
Sometimes a letter is better than submitting a complaint online because you take the time to crystallise your thoughts and get to the point. If you are submitting a complaint online, maybe you should write a draft in Word first. When you’re angry or upset, it’s easy to write a ‘who did what, when’ type of complaint that rambles until you reach your word limit.
Once I submitted such a poorly written complaint online that the response I got was: ‘Before we can proceed with your complaint, we need your customer number…’ (I wasn’t a customer, just a complainer!)
How to write a letter of complaint
When you’re writing a letter of complaint, you need to be very clear about what response you want.
If your letter of complaint is worth your time and mental effort, then structure it well and pay attention to the tone.
Start with the problem and how you would like it resolved. Then provide some background if necessary.
Remember that the person you’re writing to probably didn’t create the problem, and they will respond better if your letter is objective and courteous.
If you’re the sort of person who, like me, writes letters in your head but rarely sends them, you might find this website useful.
Other ways of complaining
Complaining by letter or email is not the only way of making your voice heard these days.
Some creative people have launched their complaints through websites, YouTube, Twitter and discussion groups. A few creative examples that went viral are:
- Adam Brimo was tired of waiting on hold for Vodafone customer service so he set up a website. He used Facebook, Twitter and an internet technology discussion group to alert other Vodafone users. He and his followers were not alone in complaining about Vodafone at the time, but his site had an impact and I understand Vodafone has improved its service. (I am not a Vodafone user so can’t state that categorically.)
- When an airline refused to compensate musician Dave Carroll for bag handlers breaking his guitar, Dave posted a song on YouTube. The airline eventually offered some compensation, which Dave refused. He didn’t lose out though – the guitar company gave him two new guitars and his music career got a boost.
- Have you heard about a woman called Keara O’Neill who was abused by a retail assistant in trendy Chapel Street, Melbourne? An email from the company’s area manager in response to her complaint went viral, impacting so badly on the brand that the company closed its Facebook page. Read an article in the Herald Sun.
Well-crafted complaints can have an impact and a bad response from a company can affect a brand.
Brush up your writing skills with my online Business Writing course so your letters of complaint achieve results.
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