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How To Write a Better Letter of Complaint by Brian Konradt

At one time or another in your life, you might feel compelled to write a letter of complaint. We say "compelled" because this letter is a product of serious thought. You've analyzed the situation thoroughly, and you'd like action or retribution to follow accordingly.

Nobody likes to complain -- the least of all things you'd like to do; however, filing one may be necessary if you need to exercise fair judgment. There are situations which call for such fair criticizing, and they can be anything from a defective product to an inefficient service. If you know you're in the right, then you may decide to take specific measures to correct the problem.

Step-by-step, let's tread carefully and see how you can write a better complaint letter:

Step 1: Get your facts straight.

Promise yourself that you'll think straight! You won't let your letter be a venue to let off steam or issuing threats. Actual or implied, threats will get you nowhere near the recipient's favor.

In as much as you're a well-informed consumer, show that you're an educated one. Focus on facts such as names, dates, numbers, and instances. In short, the secret is to get your act together!

Another thing to "straighten out" is your writing. Have your letter spell-checked and proofread for grammatical errors. Make it sound as professional as possible.

Step 2: Address your complaint to the person in charge.

Usually, it's deemed most proper to address your letter to the person directly in charge of the subject under complaint.

If the person in charge fails to handle the situation correctly, then you'd be forced to submit a follow-up complaint to a superior who's higher in command.

Step 3: State your reason plainly and clearly.

Your letter has a purpose, and this should be clearly stated. Why exactly are you filing this complaint, and what do you intend to achieve?

The point is to write a letter that's brief, concise, and specific. Using short paragraphs, limit its content to a single page. All the while, keep your tone polite and courteous.

Step 4: Support your facts.

Obviously, filing a formal complaint has its advantages over making a phone call or sending an email. In addition to hard copies which act as supporting documents, you'll have legitimate proof that your concern's been stated on record.

If you want to go a step further, make sure your document's signed, sealed, and delivered. In short, have it stamped and received! What they ought to receive are only copies, since you're meant to keep the originals.

Step 5: Indicate how the other party can help you.

Having fully justified your complaint, here's where you can suggest immediate actions. If there are issues which management should address, propose specific change(s) in company policy.

If you're intent on having a product replaced, emphasize that the company facilitates returns and exchanges for you.  If you need an actual refund, request that the company pay the refund within a reasonable time frame.

Step 6: End with a thank you.

In closing, always remember to thank the letter's recipient in advance. Express your confidence that the recipient will resolve the issues. Aside from being a matter of common courtesy, it's also a way to guarantee that action will, indeed, be taken.

Whether you like it or not, the key to writing complaints will always be judgmental and diplomatic. Only in a diplomatic, constructive way can you get positive results. When you get actual results, they'll be the very reward for this daunting, if not awkward  task you've had to undertake.