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					Dr. Downing: Complaint Letters                           Writing for the Workplace: Spring 2009
                                            Complaint Letters

THERE are many reasons why people write letters of complaint. They include:
   Unmet Expectations
   Unsatisfactory Waiting Times/Poor Customer Service
   Communication Problems
   Unexpected Costs or Fees
   Undesirable Outcomes
How to Write a Complaint Letter
   Be sure to type your letter.
   Include your name, address, home and/or work phone numbers.
   Open with a buffer paragraph (use soft flattery).
   Make your letter brief and to the point. Include all important facts about your purchase, including the date
    and place where you made the purchase and any information you have relating to the product or service
    (such as serial or model numbers or specific type of service).
   State the desired outcome precisely. Be reasonable.
   Include all documents regarding your problem. Be sure to send copies, not originals. Identify them as
    “enclosures” below your name near the bottom.
   Avoid writing an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter. The person reading your letter probably was not
    responsible for your problem but may be very helpful in resolving it.
   Keep a copy of the original letter for your records. Save it to your hard disk.
Elements of a Complaint Letter
                       Use single spacing throughout, with double spacing between paragraphs.
    Your street address, i.e. 714 Fish Kill Drive, Terra Haute, IN 41444
                                                     [four spaces]
    Name of Contact Person (if available)
      Title (if available)
      Company Name
      Customer Service Division (if you have no contact person)
      Street Address
      City, State, Zip Code
                                                     [two spaces]
    Dear (Contact Person):
                                                     [two spaces]
    Re: (account number, if applicable)
                                                     [two spaces]
    Buffer: Typically, your products/services have performed well…I have been satisfied….
                                                     [two spaces]
    Unfortunately, your product (or service) has not performed well (or the service was inadequate) because
     (state the problem). I am disappointed because (explain the problem: for example, the product does not
     work properly, the service was not performed correctly, I was billed the wrong amount, something was not
     disclosed clearly or was misrepresented, etc.).
                                                     [two spaces]
Dr. Downing: Complaint Letters                              Writing for the Workplace: Spring 2009
     To resolve the problem, I would appreciate it if you could (state the specific action you want—refund,
      charge card credit, repair, exchange, etc.). Enclosed are copies of my records (include copies of receipts,
      guarantees, warranties, canceled checks, contracts, model and serial numbers, and any other documents).
                                                      [two spaces]
     I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem. Please contact me at the above address or by
      phone at (home and/or office numbers with area code).
                                                      [two spaces]
     Sincerely,
                                                [four spaces; signature]
     Your name
                                                      [two spaces]
     Enclosure(s) cc: (reference to whom you are sending a copy of this letter, if anyone)
                              Be sure to center the letter on the page from top to bottom.

Source: Consumer Action Handbook 2001, Federal consumer Information Center, Pueblo, CO

Styles for Complaints Letters (see ToC or index in textbook for models)
    Full Block (Full Block is typical for business correspondence; however, you should follow the models
        created by the company that you work for.)
    Modified Block
    Modified Block, Indented Paragraphs

ASSIGNMENT: Select one of the two scenarios listed below. Write a one- or two-page letter of complaint
based upon the information provided. Use the above notes to ensure proper form and content. Use the checklists
in your textbook for further consideration.

Scenario One
You purchased a stereo system complete with amplifier, speakers, tape deck, and CD/DVD player (Sterling
Model #908234). You spent $1250 on your new system. You owned your system for four months when the CD
player quit working. You called Jesse’s Stereo Universe, where you purchased the system, and they did not
return your call. You visited the store and the person who sold you the system no longer worked there. The new
manager, Carter Clark, told you the store is not responsible for items sold by previous employees. The product
warranty guarantees the stereo system to be free from defects for one year. Write a letter to Sterling
Entertainment Systems to complain about your CD/DVD player and the local service. The address is: Sterling
Entertainment Systems, 2367 Gateway Boulevard, Austin, TX 80974. Use your own address for the heading.
Use today's date.

Scenario Two
You paid $95 to Best Seat Events for two concert tickets to “Battle of the Bands” at the Burns Ballroom
Pavilion in Newark, NJ on August 5, 2007. According to the advertising for the show, several of your favorite
bands would be playing there. However, when you arrived, there were problems. You did not get the seats you
paid for. Several bands did not show up. There were problems with sound quality, organization and crowd
behavior—and any other valid points you might want to mention. You would like a refund. Address your letter
to Best Seat Events, 10324 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10065. Use your own address for the
heading. Use today's date.

				
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