How To Write An Effective Complaint Letter

You have a right to complain and to be taken seriously when you do. Complaint letters help hold businesses accountable for their actions and make a big difference in how they treat customers in the future. 

You may not always get what you want, but at least your voice will be heard. In this article, we’ll look at how to write an effective complaint letter on any subject and explain why it works.

How to Write A Complaint Letter (And Actually Get Results)
1. Clarity is Key: Clearly state the issue in your complaint letter to avoid misunderstandings.
2. Provide Details: Include specific information such as dates, names, and relevant facts to support your complaint.
3. Be Concise: Keep the letter concise and to the point, focusing on the main problem and its impact.
4. Propose Solutions: Suggest possible solutions or outcomes to show your willingness to resolve the issue.
5. Professional Tone: Maintain a polite and professional tone throughout the letter, avoiding emotional language.
6. Back with Evidence: Support your claims with evidence like receipts, documents, or photographs.
7. Request Action: Clearly state what action you expect from the recipient and express hope for a prompt response.
8. Review and Edit: Proofread your letter to ensure accuracy and clarity before sending it.
9. Follow Up: If needed, follow up on your complaint if you don’t receive a response within a reasonable time.
10. Stay Persistent: If necessary, escalate your complaint through proper channels for a resolution.

Keep It Simple, Beginning With The Most Important Points

Do not make your letter too long. The simpler, the better. It’s always a good idea to start with the most important points and then move on to less important ones. Keep in mind that when you write an effective complaint letter, you should be concise and avoid rambling around without getting any information across.

For example, if there is something that bothers you about a product or service offered by a company, then explain why it bothers you (the first point). 

Then give an example of how that issue affects other customers as well (the second point). If possible, also provide details such as names or dates related to this issue so that readers can easily understand what happened (the third point). You can also provide additional information such as testimonials from other people who have experienced similar problems (fourth point).

Writing a complaint letter requires finesse and precision. Check out our guide on How to Write an Effective Complaint Letter for valuable tips on expressing your concerns clearly and effectively.

Keep It Short And To The Point

It is important to keep your complaint letter short and to the point. Avoid going into unnecessary detail, and make sure that what you are writing is relevant to the situation. It can be frustrating when someone takes a lot of time explaining something when it is not necessary or relevant to what they are trying to accomplish.

You don’t want your reader to lose interest halfway through reading because they think there’s too much information being presented in an overly wordy manner, so it’s best if you get right down to business right away (or at least within a few sentences). 

If there are any additional details or explanations that need explaining, then go ahead and add them after you’ve got everything else out of the way first thing in your complaint letter!

Focus On Solutions

Your letter should focus on what you want and how to get it. Don’t make it all about the other party, or let your letter be personal to them. 

Keep in mind that a complaint is not an attack on someone else’s character or their way of doing business; it is simply an attempt to resolve a problem with the help of another person or business, even if that person or business has caused the said problem.

Remember: Do not get confrontational! Don’t accuse them of lying, cheating, stealing, etc., unless you have proof that this happened (and if so bring along photos and receipts). 

Don’t be defensive; instead take responsibility for any part you may have played in creating this situation (e.g., “I admit that my service provider’s failure to show up at my house at 9:00 am was frustrating because I had been waiting all morning for him/her…”). 

And don’t act aggressively by threatening legal action against them unless you intend to follow through with it this will only make things worse! If all else fails try being passive-aggressive by using humor (e.g., “While I appreciate your offer…”)

When dealing with legal matters, clarity is key. Learn the art of constructing a clear and persuasive argument with our guide on How to Write a Legal Memorandum, which complements your complaint letter writing skills.

If You Are Angry And Emotional, Wait 24 Hours Before Writing Your Letter

Waiting 24 hours before writing your letter is a good idea for two reasons. First, it gives you time to calm down and think about what happened more rationally and objectively. 

Second, it gives the other person time to reflect on their actions and realize how they may have been wrong giving them a chance to apologize or take responsibility for whatever they did that upset you.

The longer you wait after an incident has occurred, the better your complaint will be received. If someone has just offended or harmed you in some way (like when someone cuts into line at Starbucks).

Then writing an effective complaint letter right away might make sense because it’s fresh in your mind but this is not always the case with workplace complaints as well as other situations where there isn’t any urgency involved such as dealing with customer service issues over email or telephone calls

Be Polite. Be Professional At All Times, Even If The Other Side Is Not

Be polite. Being polite and respectful is an essential part of any complaint letter, no matter how angry or upset you may feel. If you start by being rude or disrespectful, then it’s much harder to convince the other person that your grievance is valid and should be taken seriously.

Be professional at all times, even if the other side is not. Regardless of how much animosity exists between yourself and another party, always maintain a professional tone in your writing — even if they are behaving inappropriately toward you! 

Your goal should be to present yourself as a credible source of information about the problem (“I am an honest person”), rather than someone who has been wronged (“You have wronged me”).

Complaining in writing.

Write a letter to the company.

Use email.

Write a letter to the company’s head office, or send an email directly to the CEO or president of the company if you want to be sure your complaint gets read and addressed quickly.

Write a letter or send an email of complaint straight to someone in customer service, like “Customer Service Manager” at their official contact address (or use their website). Do not mention that you have already sent emails or letters via regular postal mail—that just wastes time and money!

If all else fails, and you need further assistance with your complaint, write out another letter explaining how they’ve failed as an organization while maintaining politeness throughout. This may seem extreme but it will help get them moving on resolving any issues or complaints that arise from this point forward!

Avoiding common pitfalls in legal writing can elevate your communication. Dive into our article on Top 15 Most Common Legal Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them to fine-tune your complaint letter for maximum impact.

Use A Cordial Tone And Avoid Inflammatory Language Or Threats

Use a cordial tone and avoid inflammatory language or threats.

Don’t use sarcasm, ALL CAPS, exclamation points, offensive language, or profanity.

Don’t threaten the recipient or imply that you will take legal action against them.

Describe the problem clearly and offer a proposed solution.

Next, you’ll want to describe the problem clearly and offer a proposed solution. This could be as simple as saying, “I’m unhappy with the quality of my product,” or it could be more detailed like this:

The product I ordered is faulty. The alarm clock doesn’t work at all. As you can see in photo [insert link], it’s been broken for several weeks now and still has not been repaired. I would like a full refund so that I may buy another one from a different company who will sell me something that works!

If your complaint involves poor customer service rather than faulty products or services, then you should also include details about how this was handled and what you think should happen next! 

Be specific about what happened when dealing with staff members from both companies, including whom you spoke with (if possible) and anything else unique about those interactions (such as whether they were friendly). 

This can help paint a picture of how frustrating their behavior was for other readers who might not have otherwise understood why it bothered you so much!

Finally, make sure there’s contact information where consumers can get back in touch if they need any further assistance after reading all these words we wrote just for them 🙂

Do not use exclamation points or ALL CAPS, which can make a reader feel threatened or insulted.

Be Courteous, Diplomatic, And Professional

Don’t use exclamation points or ALL CAPS. These can make you look like a crazy person who is out to harass the recipient of your complaint letter. Use a cordial tone and avoid inflammatory language or threats. Describe the problem clearly and offer a proposed solution, if you have one, in the next section below titled “Proposed Solutions to Complaints Directed at Businesses.”

Drafting a complaint requires careful consideration. Utilize our Checklist for Drafting a Complaint to ensure every essential detail is included in your letter, addressing your concerns effectively.

Avoid Sarcasm, Which Can Make An Otherwise Legitimate Complaint Seem Frivolous Or Unserious

While sarcasm can be a good way to get your point across, if you’re writing a formal complaint letter (or any other type of business correspondence), it’s best to avoid it. Taking a sarcastic tone can make your complaint seem frivolous or unserious. 

If you want to use humor, try using irony instead it’s more professional and will help give your readers the impression that you’re taking their concerns seriously.

Get To The Point Quickly And Don’t Vent Your Frustration By Over-Explaining Your Problem 

Remember that you don’t need to explain your problem at length. The letter-writer should be able to get a sense of the situation from the first few sentences. Don’t over-explain or vent your frustration by detailing every aspect of what happened. Stick to the facts and keep it short, clear, and concise so that you can move on with your day after writing this letter.

You should avoid using sarcasm or inflammatory language in any kind of official correspondence, even if it’s just an angry email complaining about how terrible something was at a restaurant last night!

Don’t get personal with your complaint letter if possible; 

Keep it professional. Don’t get personal and don’t let your emotions come into play.

Don’t be rude. If the person (or company) you’re writing to has done something wrong, don’t stoop to their level by being impolite in return.

Avoid inflammatory language and profanity at all costs; even if you feel like swearing out of anger or frustration, try to use more polite language instead of saying exactly what’s on your mind (e.g., “I am not happy with this situation” instead of “This sucks!”).

Stick with well-known abbreviations if they’re familiar enough that everyone knows what they mean without having them spelled out for them, then go ahead and use them (e.g., “It was nice meeting you today”). But avoid starting sentences with these abbreviations because it makes everything read awkwardly: “It was nice meeting today.

Crafting a compelling complaint letter shares similarities with effective legal writing. Discover the 12 Elements of Good Legal Writing that can enhance your complaint letter’s persuasiveness and impact.


Now that you know how to write a complaint letter, it’s time to get started! Remember that the most important thing is to be polite, professional, and respectful. A cordial tone can go a long way toward resolving your issue or at least providing an opportunity for honest communication between parties.

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources for further enhancing your complaint letter writing skills:

Net Lawman: Complaints Letters Explore a comprehensive guide on drafting effective complaint letters, covering various scenarios and providing templates for your convenience.

FTC Consumer Information: Sample Customer Complaint Letter The FTC offers a sample customer complaint letter that highlights important elements to consider when addressing your concerns with a company.

YourDictionary: How to Write a Complaint Letter for Results Learn how to structure a complaint letter for impactful results, using tips and examples to communicate your issues effectively.


How should I start a complaint letter?

To begin a complaint letter, address the recipient politely and concisely state the purpose of your letter. Provide necessary details such as dates, products, or services involved.

What are the key components of an effective complaint letter?

An effective complaint letter should include a clear description of the issue, relevant supporting details, and a proposed resolution. Be concise and factual in your writing.

How can I make my complaint letter more persuasive?

To make your complaint letter persuasive, focus on presenting the facts logically and avoid emotional language. Back your claims with evidence and provide a clear explanation of the impact the issue has on you.

Should I use a template for my complaint letter?

Using a template can be helpful as it provides a structured format. However, customize the template to fit your specific situation and ensure your concerns are accurately addressed.

How should I close a complaint letter?

Close your complaint letter with a polite request for action or resolution. Thank the recipient for their attention and express your hope for a timely response.