How to write a letter of complaint

Most of my working life I’ve been involved in some sort of front line customer service role.  This of course involves dealing with the ups of praiseworthy customers and the downs of complaining ones (very rarely these days I have to say).

There are 2 types of complaining customers. Those whose complaint is genuine and those that it is not. Often the latter will use aggression, anger, waterworks and more as some sort of leveraging prop to further their complaint which ironically just makes you want to help them less.

Pushing buttons
There is, without a doubt, a skill to complaining and getting a good outcome (that may not be what you want of course). Having dealt with the complainers for over 20 years now I’m fairly sure I have that skill and down to a fine art. You have to know how to push buttons of the reader of your letter and almost hypnotise them into wanting to help you.

By the way social media doesn’t mean that we no longer have to write complaint letters. Whilst I think business owners need to be aware of what’s what in social media readers don’t assume you can throw your toys out the pram on twitter and expect someone knocking at your door in 5 minutes with a blank cheque book!

Top tips for your complaint letter
So my top 10 tips on writing a complaint letter are as follows:

  1. Keep your cool. No one wants to help an angry lunatic, your letter will probably go in the bin. Don’t write the letter in the heat of the moment.
  2. Tell the complaint as a story and start from before the incident you are complaining about. Within the story be factual and be expressive but don’t over exaggerate.
  3. Tell of your pre-incident delight/love/joy of the brand/product in question and how you’ve been let down.
  4. Engage with the person who’s going to be reading the letter, draw them in to your plight.
  5. If you have to name names then be factual about they did or didn’t do, don’t pass personal opinion about them.
  6. Seek sympathy and empathy.
  7. Add a touch of humour if you can, remember the person who reads it may be having a rotten day and your touch of humour may make all the difference in getting a satisfactory resolve.
  8. Do not make demands or threats.
  9. Express how confident you are that the problem will get seen to and sign off by looking forward to a reply.
  10. Have fun and enjoy using the English language.

So a couple of weeks back we had some friends over and cracked open a box of Family Circle biscuits, a selection box of Crawfords biscuits including the legendary Happy Faces however much to my dismay the Happy Faces had been exchanged for another biscuit.

Despite the disclaimer about exchanging on the side of the box I joked to friends that I should write a letter of complaint about this practice of exchanging biscuits and that I did. Here is my letter. Now bear in mind it is written tongue in cheek. It is a really trivial matter and whilst I love Happy faces my life does not fall apart because they are exchanged. I simply wanted to write and see what happened.

Dear Sir or Madam,

RE: Crawford’s Family Circle Selection Box

I write to you in some distress. I have been for many many years most passionate and quite partial to your simply wonderful Happy Faces biscuits. These biscuits with their carefully balanced proportions of biscuit, jam and cream guarantee to bring a happy face to even the most down trodden of individual. I can be a grump at times, oh yes, but they always hit the spot, that or a small glass of sherry (just the one mind).

I’m sorry to not rush to the point but I must convey to you what a great advocate I am of these sweet snacks. It has been a 15 yearlong love affair with happy faces and one where I admit I have been unfaithful once or twice. Yes I strayed and once had a dirty weekend with a packet of jammy dodgers, a cheeky one-night stand with some BN but seriously they meant nothing to me! I am a one biscuit man.

There is of course one simple exception to my snack monogamy and that is when they come packaged in the aforementioned Family Circle Selection Box (FCSB). With the shops already filled with Christmas stock (not something I approve of particularly, but ‘when in rome’) and thinking ahead to a forthcoming social occasion I had planned, the FCSB would make a perfect purchase for guests to quench their sweet appetites whilst enjoying a freshly brewed cup of tea (for reference 3 guests had coffee and 1 squash).

With our social gathering in full swing I fetched the FCSB opened it to rest it on our antique drawleaf oak refectory table. I could tell instantly something was wrong. To my absolute horror, on closer inspection the Happy Faces biscuits had been substituted with the chocolate cream digestives! Now don’t get me wrong, they are a fine biscuit in their own right but they are no Happy Face. I can tell you there was one very unhappy face in the room. Namely mine!

I’m sorry that it may seem that I am bringing a very trivial matter to your attention but I must protest sincerely at the practise of biscuit substitution. What is the correct protocol for substitution? Who decides what is an acceptable substitute? How many other social gatherings have been ruined by this practise? So many questions!

I understand it must be difficult keeping up demand for Happy Faces with the joy they bring to so many lives but I do hope that you can somehow adjust your process so that they no longer need to be substituted.

Thanking you in anticipation of your assistance and I look forward to your reply.

Mr Gary Dickenson

So there you are. I think the letter contained all 10 tips and much more. I really enjoyed writing it too. No heat, no swearing, plenty of narrative.

I’m happy to say I got a reply from the makers of Family circle and it was a pretty much standard letter it was tailored to what I said. I feel I was listened to and they kindly sent me some vouchers to buy more of their biscuits which is very kind of them.

Anywhere here’s their letter.
Reply from united biscuitsAny comments are welcomed.


I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

Twitter - More Posts


Related posts:

  1. Customer service died with my grandad.
  2. What does it mean to be passionate?
  3. Bad workmen blame their tools


  1. John Wilson-Smith

    Now, tell me you only did it for the vouchers!

  2. Like the pointers.

    What happens if it is for a service or systematic multi level failure within a company? Vouchers just won’t cut it! :)

    • Hi Melitsa, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Well yes the ‘compensation’ should be appropriate to the complaint.

      It’s for you to decide if the response is good enough and if not to reply to the response stating why you feel it’s not good enough.

      Mistakes do just happen and we live in a compensation culture. Sometimes all that’s needed is an acknowledgement and an apology.

      • I probably didn’t write that question clearly enough. My fault…
        I wasn’t seeking compensation, in this hypothetical instance but more actionable steps that it wouldn’t happen to others or that the company would change its practice.

        Compensations( money or product) really wasn’t the thought.

        In this ‘case’, an acknowledgment and apology wouldn’t be enough as the same failure would continue to another person.

        Thanks for your reply. Given me some food for thought.

  3. SaffronKate

    Melitsa has a profound Q which most organisations ignore. The Q can be re-stated as: is this issue complained of the result of a special or a common cause?

    If it is special (which I suspect Happy Faces addition may well be!) then a soothing letter may be entirely appropriate. If it is common cause, i.e. rooted deep in the system, then no amount of hand patting will help. In that case the only solution is changing the system.

    The automatic Pavlovian issue of some form of compensation is another matter, which also bears examination.

    Good Blog!

  4. On the other hand, taking the advices of the experienced users and then deciding on the name of the site to visit is also
    a wise decision. All this dancing action has always made me curious, though.
    A huge clue that your ex boyfriend still has feelings for

    Feel free to surf to my page; Http://Familyguyquestforstuffhack44.Snack.Ws/Family-Guy-Quest-For-Stuff-1-1-0-Hack.Html

  5. Stress can detox max erfahrung be no excuse to reach the
    optimal number of lifetime sexual partners a man living in the film plots?
    They bring iin good health is the way, and get this as detox max erfahrung unacceptable.
    Wheen someone has continuously consumed heavy amounts of
    money to help me flush out existing toxins.
    You will always try to detox max erfahrung do is
    define what your intial dependency is different than usual.
    West Coast Detox Services Executve Director Don Ramsey hhad no gaje plan.

  6. Valuable information. Lucky me I found your website
    by chance, and I am shocked why this twist of fate did not took place earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

  7. Let’s face it: Apple makes the best-designed technology out there.

    This application helps you to modify your iPhone with the addition of themes, background, sounds, status
    bar, etc.

  8. Automatic telephone software was developed for business use.
    If you have viruses and/or adware on your computer you ought to
    consider this step extremely critically. As of Tuesday, there is now a subscription model in place.

  9. Pot să povestesc când nivelul meu de zahăr sunt glorios pentru că eu apreciez de a utiliza …
    Cu nici un avantaj de un test de sange care arata efecte negative , dragostea de viață ar
    putea fi HIV-pozitiv .

  10. All you’ve got to-do if you’d like to find a ireb in your town is search the net.
    The iPhone boasts each of the functions plus a few more of the iPod
    Feel to put it merely.

  11. Memory ought to be an enormous deal concerning the ipad
    2. Jan has tremendous potential to create cool and constant snow and ice-not observed because the
    late 1970′s.

  12. Call Obstructing – you are able to outline telephone numbers and block inbound phone calls from them.

    There is no way I can type a message doing 120Km/hr on the freeway, so I just send a voice

  13. There is plenty of room for 3 inner difficult drives.

    The beautiful Iphone five could be bailed out whenever. Moments – share pictures with buddies, more like Instagram.
    You never require to communicate on the telephone!

  14. Add icons to your iPhone 3G themes and create your own themes!
    Clip your telephone to your belt, in a good vented pouch.
    This is a microbrew king that deserves to be revered and bowed down to.

  15. You can use it now and appreciate full access to your iPhone in under 5 minutes.
    This leaves the user with a lot of choices. Its overall performance is definitively not disappointing throughout
    our preliminary testing.

  16. Apple’s function demonstrated a new verve. The Eatery is another great application for fat loss.
    The Eatery app is strictly the right choice for you if you’re trying to eat healthier or shed weight.

  17. Click aici pentru a vizita site-ul pentru a obține extinderea .

  18. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard
    against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
    Any suggestions?

  19. Thank you for any other excellent article.
    Where else may just anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal
    method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the search for such information.

  20. Observe before you select it where in fact the link is
    going. For example a loans company may employ a picture of a happy family with a new-car.
    It will be located in the orange area towards the top of
    the display.

  21. Informative Site Hello guys here are some links that contains information which you might find useful yourselves. It is Worth Checking out. eabcbdkacddd

  22. Hello there, just became aware of your log through Google,
    aand found that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing.

    my blog; female weight loss transformation – Wilfred,

  23. Quality content is the crucial to be a focus for the viewers to go to see the website, that’s what
    this web page
    is providing.

  24. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I believe that you ought to
    write more on this subject matter, it might not be a taboo matter but usually
    people do not discuss such issues. To the next! Many thanks!!

  25. What i don’t realize is in truth how you are no longer actually much more well-appreciated than you might
    bbe now. You’re very intelligent. You already know thus considerably in the case of this
    subject, made me for my part believe it from numerous varied
    angles. Its liike women and men don’t seem to be involved until it’s something to do
    with Girrl gaga! Your individual stuffs great.
    All the time take care of it up!

  26. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice at the same time
    as you amend com 345 week 3 dq 2 reaching your target audience site,
    how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a applicable deal.
    I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered shiny clear concept

  27. Rest assured, it and hold action. This heat tank can prove used as
    a way to warm the most important urine in the said temperature that an actually urine vignette.
    Find an actual magnet at their home in addition hold that near your gold jewelry.

  28. This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am truly happy to read everthing at single place.

  29. Nobody can know if you have used or not this Large Fish Casino Slots & Poker Cheat for Fb.

  30. You are so interesting! I do not suppose I’ve truly read anything like that before.
    So wonderful to discover another person with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is
    something that’s needed on the web, someone
    with a little originality!

  31. It’s in reality a nice and useful piece of info.
    I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us.

    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  32. Touche. Sound arguments. Keep up the great effort.

  33. Je vous propose de venir sur le site, sur qui il y a beaucoup d’information sur cette question.

  34. Hi there to every body, it’s my first visit of this webpage; this
    webpage contains remarkable and in fact excellent material designed for visitors.

  35. you’re really a excellent webmaster. The web site loading speed is amazing.
    It kind of feels that you are doing any unique trick. Furthermore, The
    contents are masterwork. you have done a great activity on this topic!

  36. This is a great tip especially to those new to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very precise information… Thanks for
    sharing this one. A must read post!

  37. とおりがかりのヲジさんで急のコメコメですんずれぃすますだ。

  38. I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. This great
    article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your website and keep checking for new information about once
    per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  39. I do consider all of the ideas you’ve offered for your post.
    They’re very convincing and can certainly work. Nonetheless, the posts are too brief
    for starters. Could you please extend them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.

  40. My family every time say that I am killing my time here at net, except I know I am getting know-how every day by reading such nice posts.

  41. After exploring a number of the blog posts on your web site, I honestly
    appreciate your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark site list and
    will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and tell me your opinion.

  42. Thanks for finally writing about > How to write a letter of complaint | Gary Dickenson < Liked it!


  1. The disappointment when... - [...] and maybe you will get a years supply of then for a version that made me ...

Leave a Reply to John Wilson-Smith