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Write a Complaint Letter That Gets RESULTS!

Updated on May 7, 2009

Sometimes, a formal complaint is necessary...

When you've paid good money for something but have received a faulty product or horrible service in return, you should want to do something about it! Don't sit back and let yourself be susceptible to poor treatment. The most effective form is to write a letter of complaint to the company that wronged you.

Now, this does NOT mean I'm condoning writing letters when you have not been wronged for the sake of receiving free products!


The point of the letter should NOT be to get something in return - it should be to inform the company of bad service or products they are providing. They will be very grateful for your input!

What kind of situations can I write about?

Almost anything - here's a small list of things I or people I know have written letters of complaint about in the past:

1. Finding larvae in a chocolate bar of a candy company

2. Being called a liar by staff of a popular donut and coffee shop

3. Constant bad service at a restaurant

4. Receiving broken furniture on a delivery truck

5. Any situation where a store manager did not offer to rectify the situation

Getting started...

First, you need to evaluate what went wrong, and what you think should be done to fix the issue. Be realistic - never request more than what you were trying to get in the first place. Do not request an entire living room set if you ordered an end table and it was delivered broken. Don't demand to have a $100 gift card if all you bought was spoiled milk in the first place.

Ask yourself:

HOW has I been wronged?

WHAT can this company do to correct this issue?

WHY did this happen - by fault of my own, or theirs?

As soon as you've evaluated the situation, make a rough draft. You want to sound confident and intelligent in your letter, so rewriting is an absolute must. Try not to use vocabulary that's beyond you. Do not belittle the company - compliment their previous services, and express your disappointment in what went wrong. If you are trying to get a defunct product or service replaced, you MUST be firm by saying, for example, "if I do not receive the cell phone that I ordered in thirty days, I will be forced to take legal action." DO NOT, however, become aggressive.

Why should I do this?

There are many reasons.

First of all, writing a formal complaint will just plain ol' make you feel better, especially after you've been wronged.

Second, the company will VALUE your opinion! Especially if the letter is written in a concise, non-threatening manner. They will appreciate that you handled the situation in such a calm way (as opposed to calling the store manager and yelling at them, for example). This response will lead to the betterment of the company - they will be aware of one of their weak areas and wish to correct it.

PLEASE NOTE: I cannot say it enough - if you're expecting something back in return, you WILL be disappointed. Not to say that you will never get something from a company, but more often than not, you will receive nothing other than a "We're sorry this happened to you" reply. Is it still worth your effort? YES!

Sample Letter

Here is an example of how you should make your letter sound...

Coffee Emporium

123 Coffee Lane

Coffeeville, CO 12345

Dear CEO Jack Coffman,

I am writing to inform you about an experience that I had at one of your stores, located at 321 Main Street, in Miami, Florida. The incident happened on March 12, 2010, at around 7 P.M.

When I arrived in your store, I noticed that there was a lot of trash on the ground, and some spilled coffee all over several of the tables. This is definitely out of the ordinary for this store, but I ignored it because the staff looked really busy and I was sure they were going to get around to cleaning it as soon as possible.

I ordered my usual order - one large coffee with two creams - and proceeded to wait twenty minutes for it! This would be understandable if they were brewing the coffee and it was fresh and hot when I got it, but the coffee was cold and bitter. When I asked the staff for a new coffee, they loudly sighed and rolled their eyes, and refused to give me a new coffee.

This is not typical service that I get at Coffee Emporium, so I was really blown away. I love your products and I am a very frequent customer, so this really tarnished my opinion of the chain. I hate to say that it will probably take a long time for me to visit this store again...

I would highly consider evaluating the employees at the 321 Main Street location, as they are degrading the name of your company.

Kind Regards,

Mrs. Coffee Lover

Have you ever written a letter of complaint that worked? Did you use any other techniques other than those listed above? Did you learn anything from this lens?

Weigh in (But don't write a letter of complaint about me!)

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: yep it is

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      this is a great example. Thank u so much!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks this letter was a perfect example of complaint. I think I can do my letter now for Business Essentials.

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      I've done this before in the past when the circumstance called for it. Examples: cricket in my lettuce... a whole cricket. A staple in my food at a restaurant. Only when it called for it!