Customer Complaints – Letter Writing Tips

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

How often have you made a purchase, used a service or contracted a vendor and been displeased or disappointed with the item or results? Perhaps a piece of electronic equipment malfunctioned soon after purchase and you were frustrated with the item. Maybe you bought a garment that was supposed to be hand washable and the results did not hold up to the manufacturer’s promise. My favorite expression I’ve repeated to my adult children is to remember “the power of the pen.” If a complaint letter is to be written, it must have certain key elements to make it effective. Letter writing is a last resort if no satisfaction has been received going back to the store or business directly.

The most important aspect of a strong letter to the company that made the product is to make sure all of the necessary information is included. Clear and descriptive details should have the date of the purchase, the exact name and model of the product and any serial numbers it may show. Saving receipts is important because it proves the amount paid and the date of the purchase and the name of the store or company the item came from. Never send original receipts, only clear copies of any documents, service orders, etc. If sending an email to the company, copies can be scanned and attached with your letter.

In simple and polite language describe the problem you are having or had with the product or service. If you went back to the store and were dissatisfied with the clerk’s handling of the matter, include that information, too. Perhaps the item was replaced and the second one is also defective or not performing as promised, this too should be mentioned. What do you want to accomplish by your letter, have the item repaired, replaced or a refund? Be clear about the action you are seeking. Make sure you give your contact information such as your address, phone number or email address where you can be reached. Remember to be polite in your correspondence and avoid language that takes away from your credibility as a person they want to deal with and satisfy the problem. This is usually in the writer’s best interest when he/she can state the problem and be genuine in the search for a resolution. Several years ago our two grown daughters went on vacation together to a Caribbean resort that received four stars from the travel website they researched and booked through. When they arrived the hotel was nothing as promised and barely rated a two star for either the accommodations, beach front, or “sumptuous buffet” the brochure described, etc. Upon returning home, one daughter sent a well written letter to the travel site describing the situation and suggesting the rating be downgraded. Several weeks later she received a partial refund and the apologies from the organization. Of course, these letters do not always produce positive results, but clear and precise information can help detail the problem and possibly lead to the outcome sought.