Methods of Complaining
1. Make Notes Review the three methods of complaining, and, for each one, note what information you should record as you go through the process. In each case, explain why this documentation is important.
2. Let off Steam in a First Draft An effective letter of complaint states the problem, but controls anger. Sometimes you may write more than one draft, using earlier drafts to get rid of your anger or frustration and then revising until you have a polite, effective letter. Write what could be the first (angry) draft of a complaint letter. Then, in a paragraph, discuss why your first draft may not get the attention that you want, while a later, more businesslike version, would.
Methods of Complaining
INFORMATION/COMPLAINT LETTER by Alberta Consumer and Corporate Affairs
Before you read, think about how you can make sure that if you have a reasonable complaint, it is heard and acted on.
As you read, note which ideas and strategies you have heard before, and which are new to you.
Most often, complaints are made in person, by telephone, or they are written. No matter which way you choose to complain, there is some basic information that you should include in your complaint. Review the Complaint Information Checklist.
The place to start with your complaint is with the seller or person with whom you originally dealt. Present yourself well and be polite. It’s a good idea to bring along a witness. Describe your problem, and present your documentation. State what you want done about the problem.
If you don’t get satisfaction, get the name of the person with whom you are speaking. Go home and write down the details of the meeting. These notes will be useful when you follow up your initial complaint by complaining to someone with more authority.
Although telephone complaints are the easiest for you, they’re the least effective method of complaining because it’s often difficult to get through to someone who is in a position to assist you.
Before making a telephone complaint, gather all the related information. Call the business with which you have a complaint. Briefly explain your problem and ask for the name of a person who can assist you.
Introduce yourself and again describe your problem. Ask whether the person has the authority to do anything about the problem. If the answer is no, ask to be referred to someone who can help you. Keep a list of everyone you speak to and keep notes so you have a record of your conversations.
When you do speak with someone in authority, get a statement from them about what they will do and the time frame in which they’ll do it. Before the end of the telephone conversation, review your understanding of what’s been said so there will be no disagreements later.
Follow up with a letter to the person, outlining details of the agreement. Keep a copy of your letter.
If they are done well, written complaints are the most forceful method of complaining. A letter should be neat, preferably typed, and short. If possible, keep it to one page. Send it by certified or registered mail so you have proof it was sent. Direct the letter to a specific person or at least to a specific job title. For example, to “Mr. Smith” or to the “Director of Customer Relations,” not “To Whom It May Concern.”
SAMPLE COMPLAINT LETTER
234 Hillcrest Avenue
City, Province Postal Code (Your address)
February 8, 2002 (Date)
REGISTERED MAIL (Send letter by registered or certified mail)
Mrs. Mabel Mackay
Customer Relations Manager
Glad Rags Clothing Mfg.
City, Province Postal Code
Dear Mrs. Mackay: (Write to a specific person)
On January 10, 2002, I purchased a Glad Rags brand, cotton knit long-sleeved sweater, style number 6049 from the Trendy Fashion Centre in this city. Information on the garment labels indicates that the sweater is “oyster and fuchsia” in colour and made of 100% cotton. Cleaning instructions state that it can be washed by hand in lukewarm water and laid flat to dry.
(Type your letter, keep it short, keep a copy Identify the date and location of the purchase) (Give a complete description of the good or service)
When I washed the sweater, I carefully followed the washing instructions. Nevertheless, the dye ran, leaving pink splotches over the entire garment. (Explain the problem)
I attempted to return the sweater to the Trendy Fashion Centre where I bought it. Although they said they have had several complaints, they were not willing to exchange the sweater or refund my money. (Outline the action you’ve taken)
I am writing you to request that you exchange my sweater for a new one. If this cannot be done, I request that you arrange a refund through the Trendy Fashion Centre. Please reply within 10 working days of receiving this letter. During business hours, I can be reached at 765-4321.
(Specify the action you expect) (Provide a daytime phone number)
I have enclosed a copy of my sales receipt. (Enclose copies of documents; keep the originals)
Joan Johnson (Identify yourself)