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Writing Clinic: Complaint Letters

Are you sweating over a letter or email you need to write about a product? Writing isn’t easy for everyone but if you keep a few points in mind you can produce an effective letter. As with most things we write, the letter will have a beginning, middle, and end.

  • 1. Begin by making a list of things you want to say. Then rearrange your list in a way that allows the letter to flow.

  • 2. The first item should be the point you want to make. In one or two sentences state the problem and what you want done about it.

  • For example, let’s say you bought a toaster and after only three months the lever will not stay down making it impossible to toast your bread. You would begin your letter by saying exactly that and that you would like a replacement or full refund.

  • 3. Add where you purchased the item, the date of purchase, and the amount paid.

  • 4. End with your contact information. If you still have the receipt, include the hard copy with the letter or scan and attach it in an email.

Before sending your letter, give it a quick review. Grammar and spelling errors distract from your point, so use references if you have them.

Also, edit out any rambling. The manufacturer does not need to know how much you love cinnamon toast in the morning and that your mother used to cut it into little squares for you when you were a child. Writing simply and clearly makes it easy for your reader to know exactly what happened and what you want done about it.

©Mary K. Doyle

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