How to write a letter of complaint

We Brits have never been keen on confronting bad service, faulty products or inedible food and all too often we keep our mouth shut when we should be complaining.

Letters of complaint

Pic: Getty

If you are uncomfortable with a face-to-face confrontation, a letter of complaint could be the answer. Here are our top tips for getting it right.
Know your stuff
Whether it's a faulty product or bad service (no matter how large the company), be sure that your complaint is a valid one. Checking the small print if you have signed a mobile phone contract, for example, is essential if you are to be clear about where the company has failed.

And before you write your letter, decide what result you are looking for. Perhaps you deserve compensation or are after replacement product - whatever you think is reasonable.

Letter essentials
Ideally you should address the letter to a real person (try to get the name of someone senior - the customer services manager or even the CEO) and if you are complaining about bad service, mention the name of the member of staff who was at fault.

However, avoid making personal complaints, unless the staff member was seriously unpleasant (sexist or racist remarks warrant a personal complaint).

Instead, concisely detail what the problem is, when it occurred, and state what you are entitled to. In order to be sure about this, you may need to check your rights, but using a phrase along the lines of 'under consumer law' will more likely prompt a speedy reaction or resolution from the company. It is entirely reasonable to set a deadline for the firm to respond, say, 14 days, and it's an idea to send any correspondence by recorded delivery so that you have proof of its arrival.
One thing to avoid in an apology - the phrase 'I'm sorry but' seems to be in our genes, but if you know your rights, that one little word will do little to help.

Finally, check for spelling errors and remember to keep copies of any correspondence, along with receipts, bills or bank statements where appropriate.

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