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The How-To Lounge: Writing a Complaint Letter

A few weeks ago I gave you some tips on how to write a thank you note, but unfortunately, sometimes you're not so thankful. If you have ever been over charged on your credit card, your florist sent your delivery to the wrong address, or have flown half way across the country just to get home you have probably wanted to vent your frustration to that company's manager, so I am back to give you tips on how to write a complaint letter.

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  • Since you are writing a complaint letter, you're sure to be fired up about something but remember to stay calm. You have a better chance of getting what you want when you are calm and collected
  • If you have already spoken to a customer service agent, remember to always ask for the person's name in case you need to take additional measures
  • If you have a complaint that has not already been verbally addressed, be sure to send your letter to the appropriate person. Obviously the higher rank of your contact, the faster your concern will be addressed
  • Make the first part of your letter as positive as possible. No one responds well to rudeness
  • Cut straight to the point. If your letter is too long, chances are it won't be read. Keep it short and precise
  • Let the recipient of your letter know how their mistake or failure has affected you (for example - time, money, etc.) and what you wish to accomplish by sending the letter (for example - a refund, apology, etc.)
  • No matter what your concern, provide as much documentation as possible, but remember to always make duplicate copies for your records
  • The tone of your letter will directly affect the way they handle your complaint, so remember to sign it with a "thank you for your time"

While I certainly hope you don't need to use these tips often, they do come in handy from time to time, so I hope they help if need be.


Join The Conversation
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
yeah, i find that names, dates and the specific problem get the best results. i have to be REALLY pissed to take the time to write a letter, which i think is true of most people.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
I work in customer support and cannot tell you how much distance a professionally written, well-thought out email/letter will get you. People who are rude are hard to take seriously and a rude complaint will not get nearly the amount of attention that someone else's will. Also, if you receive fantastic service somewhere, you can write a note about that, too. After being in customer support I do the following things when dealing with other CS people: 1) Rein in my anger as much as possible 2) Write positive notes to the company if I have excellent support You have no idea how much we love hearing from customers who are happy with us! Most people only think to complain, not compliment, and it's so wonderful when someone takes the time to thank us for hard work etc.
kendalheart kendalheart 10 years
I think that its very important to not do it when you so heated, that way you can collect your thoughts and not jusst ramble!
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
Good tips Dear and I like yours too prissylilbadass. That's where I really have to reign myself in...the emotion in the letter!!!
PrissyLilBadAss PrissyLilBadAss 10 years
My tip on the complaint letters... stick to the facts. Don't put any emotion into it. If you have a legit complaint, the facts will speak for themselves and you will get your point across without being rude. Working for a law firm, I've had to write numerous complaint letters and stating the facts always gets a quick response. "Party like a rock star, pound like a porn star, play like an all star!"
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