How do I write a good letter of complaint

Complaint letter: instructions and sample

It was once said: The customer is king. Consumers often miss this maxim. There are enough reasons to complain: delivery dates are not met, the goods are damaged, communication is sloppy. A Letter of complaint is then a clear signal to explain your dissatisfaction to the recipient. How is such a letter of complaint written? What is the difference between a complaint and a complaint? You can find tips for writing and a sample here ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Why write a letter of complaint?

When you consider how many millions of deliveries and services are provided every day, it is completely normal that there is an order among them that is not fulfilled to the customer's satisfaction. Some things can be clarified over the phone, for others the written form is more suitable.

It depends on the degree of annoyance and what your goal is. A letter of complaint met multiple functions:

  • You formulate your anger.

    This is not about becoming abusive. But without a word from you, the other person has no chance to react (unless he is aware of the malaise). And pretending everything is fine is not being honest, especially since such problems can affect future business relationships.

  • You document the facts.

    Calls, especially if they do not end up with the responsible office, tend to lapse into nothing. With a letter of complaint, you can document at any time at what point in time (if applicable: how often) you already took action on the matter.

  • They illustrate the seriousness of the situation.

    Phone calls, and to some extent even e-mails, are not official. This is partly due to the fact that a postal letter of complaint has to be grasped haptically (literally understood). On the other hand, really important official documents are still issued in paper form.

Difference between complaint and complaint

If you have a complaint or a complaint, explain to your counterpart that you are not satisfied with the product or service. It does give out though legal point of view a subtle difference:

  • complaint

    You express your anger about processes, your disappointment with processes or a difference between your own ideas and the actual appearance or texture. Classic example: You purchase a television that has been described as a high-end product and presented accordingly in the pictures. In nature, the device suddenly no longer looks so high-quality. Or: You made an appointment that was not kept.

  • claim

    They also express anger or disappointment, but due to actual product defects. The order was not completed as ordered - instead of gray tiles, white tiles were used. Or the product doesn't work. You are therefore entitled to compensation as there is a guarantee.

Colloquial Often in both cases there is talk of a letter of complaint, a letter of complaint or simply a complaint. In legal terms, defects that are covered by the guarantee are a complaint.

Regardless of this, a letter of complaint can lead to a company showing understanding and as a gesture of goodwill offers a discount because, for example, you had to wait.

Writing a letter of complaint

What should a letter of complaint contain? numbers, data, facts - the whole thing looks like this:

  • Key data, i.e. date, names, addresses, telephone, customer and order numbers for the purpose of traceability
  • Reason for your letter
  • Salutation, polite wording
  • A more detailed description of what caused your dissatisfaction
  • Your opinion along with an indication of other satisfaction
  • Possible suggestions for improvement and accommodation on your part
  • Greeting and handwritten signature

Basic rule: As it resounds in the forest, so it resounds out too. With all your understandable anger, you should never forget to keep your form. You can hardly wait polite and courteous to be treated if you yourself write a letter with quibbles or even insults.

Especially since the “presumption of innocence” should apply in such cases, in other words: an order may not have been completed to your satisfaction, but it has to no bad intent behind it.

If an appointment was not kept, an employee may have forgotten to pass on the information. That doesn't mean that he was trying to cause trouble for you personally. Nor does that say anything about them general quality this company or the collaboration.

Therefore following tips to write a letter of complaint:

  • courtesy

    Confidently assume that if you describe the facts in a neutral manner, you can of course hope for understanding from your counterpart and that they will try to help you.

  • addressing

    First, contact the person responsible for the job, so that you avoid being brought forward internally - after all, mistakes are human. If this does not work, the supervisor can be requested later.

  • clarity

    Get to the point and explain clearly who has neglected or done what and when, which is not in accordance with the agreement. This is how you avoid generalizations.

  • design

    It is best to think about the day in advance how you are going to describe something so that the concern of your letter of complaint becomes clear without turning the other person against you. Sleep on it for one night and reread your letter of complaint the next day - some phrases should possibly be defused.

  • Accommodating

    Show yourself ready to talk and compromise, after all, you are fundamentally interested in a good cooperation and you are probably still waiting for the product or service.

Please avoid these mistakes!

  • Avoid epic executionsby doing without verbatim playback of unpleasant phone calls or the like. Here it helps to remember the KISS formula: Keep it short and simple.
  • Refrain from insults or sarcastic remarks. They tend to lead to the fact that your counterpart “closes down”, even if you are right on the matter.

Template and template for a letter of complaint

first name Last Name
Street and house number
Postcode / town
Service number
Order number
Customer number

name surname
Street and house number
Postcode / town

Complaint about non-delivery

Dear Mr Maier,

after I repeatedly (on the 10th and 22nd of this month) informed your employee about the spare parts that were still outstanding, I am a little annoyed. I am now formulating my request in writing because almost three weeks after the original delivery date (February 3rd) I want to ensure that the responsible department is informed.

You can certainly understand my disappointment with this delay, especially since your colleague, Mr. Müller, assured me in the second phone call that the missing spare parts would be sent immediately. As a long-standing business partner, I am amazed, especially since the cooperation in the past has worked absolutely satisfactorily.

Consider the matter settled if my letter and delivery overlap in the meantime. If I do not hear from you by DD.MM.YYYY and the delivery does not take place, I will withdraw from the original purchase contract.



We will provide you with this letter of complaint as a template free download available, either as a PDF file or as a Word document:

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October 25, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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