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How to write a letter of complaint

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Posted by Matthew Goodwin on 03 February 2015

Matthew Goodwin Associate-Solicitor-Advocate

At some point, whether business or personal, most people are going to have to write a letter of complaint. This could be against your bank, your professional advisor or any company whose service of product has left you feeling frustrated and displeased. Most issues of this type can be resolved swiftly with a firm, but polite, letter of complaint.

A letter of complaint is not always the easiest thing to write, but all you need to do is state the facts clearly, and set forth an appropriate resolution. A letter of complaint should be concise, authoritative, factual and constructive. It is a place where you can air your disappointment, but if you want a resolution, then it should not be considered a suitable output for pent up frustration.

There follows a few key points you should bear in mind when drafting a letter of complaint.

Address your letter to the correct recipient:

When preparing your letter of claim, make sure that you are writing to the right person. They will be more used to dealing with complaints, and best placed to do something about it. Whether that be the customer services department or the managing director, it is always worth trying to find out the name of the person you are writing to so that you can personally address the letter to them.

Get to the point:

Address why you are writing your letter in the first line. The recipient will have a lot of post to work through, and the quicker you get to your point the better mood they will be in upon review. Summarise the date, what happened, where and who was involved within the first paragraph.

Specify your outcome:

Whether you want an apology, your money back or a wider remedy, if you don’t tell the recipient want you want, they won’t know how to fix the issue.

Don’t threaten legal action in your first letter. It may be the necessary end game, but you should see what the response is first.

Key documents:

If you have receipts, contracts or other key emails or documents, these should be attached to your letter of complaint and identified and explained in the body of your email.

Make sure you keep copies of any documents you send.

Set a time limit:

Providing a time limit will stop your letter becoming lost or forgotten about, and will give you a solid foundation for a follow up letter if no response is received.

About the author

Matthew Goodwin


As an associate within the tax and financial services litigation team, Matthew regularly acts for corporates and individuals, dealing with a variety of disputes.

Matthew Goodwin

As an associate within the tax and financial services litigation team, Matthew regularly acts for corporates and individuals, dealing with a variety of disputes.

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