3/08/2014

Everyday Writing - The Letter of Complaint

At some point along the way, we'll probably write a letter to a manufacturer about shoddy merchandise or maybe a stray foreign object we find in a can of beans. It could also be unsatisfactory customer service or repairs. Whatever it is, the offending service or goods needs to be reported to the  organization. Bad stuff doesn't endear customers to any company. Customer service departments want to know about problems so they can be fixed. Emails are perfectly acceptable and actually help maintain a record of correspondence.

Small plastic part we found in a bag of pancake mix.
How do we write an effective letter of complaint? The tips below will get you on the right track.

First, direct it to the appropriate person or department. Usually that's the customer service department and most information is easily found at the company website. Don't address it to the CEO of a large company because you're going straight to the top.  Companies have a system in place for complaints, so use it. If it's a Mom and Pop enterprise, contacting the owner may be perfectly acceptable.

Second, don't make it personal or threatening. That particular tactic will immediately alienate the help you desire.  e.g. "Your XYZ doo wappies really stink. Why are you making such awful doo wappies? I'm going to sue you for every penny you've got."  My mother told me a long time ago that honey catches more flies than vinegar. Be professional and write in a formal manner. Reason and courtesy should be the hallmarks of this letter.

Third, be clear about the problem. Don't get sidetracked with other issues.
"My vacuum cleaner was repaired by Acme Repair on 2/3/2014. Since that date, it still doesn't vacuum properly and leaves pet hair/dirt on my carpets." If there was trouble ticket number or other information about the service call, please include it in the letter. It will help customer service to quickly locate the case.

Fourth, be specific about what you expect and be reasonable about that. Once I found a bolt in a bag of frozen vegetables. After contacting the company, submitting photos, and letting them know that a a free bag or two of vegetables would be acceptable, I received several coupons for free and highly discounted bags of vegetables, along with a letter of apology.  Finding the bolt certainly wasn't a multi-million dollar lawsuit material. Most things aren't and we all know about people who've pursued lawsuits over all sorts of minor issues. Don't be one of those. Legal action should always be the last resort.

Fifth, give the company time to respond. Nothing is resolved overnight and be prepared for that. Responses should be timely, however and if more than a few days go by for an initial response, you may want to call the company to follow up.

Here's a sample for your reading enjoyment:

March 11, 2014

Whatchamacallit Company
Customer Service Dept.
112 Main St.
Hickville, AZ  88888

Dear Sir/Madam:

I purchased a Supreme Whatchamacallit from a local retailer on February 28, 2013. The unit worked well for a few months, but I have been unable to get it to perform the transformer function again since December, 2013. The retailer referred me to the customer service department for a replacement. I've had two Whatchamacallits over the last 10 years and have always been pleased with their performance. This unit has been very disappointing and certainly not up to the quality of the others.

I look forward to hearing from you and I can be reached by email or by phone at 111-111-1111.  

Sincerely,

Inspector Gadget

Some companies are hard to deal with and others gladly make it right with a customer. I've run into both. Those who aren't committed to my satisfaction don't often see my business again. Many companies email surveys to you after an incident. Take full advantage to express your delight or disappointment about the service. Writing reviews on Angie's List or other places is also effective. A word of caution--don't rant in your review and make sure it's the truth. Companies who want to improve take those comments seriously and make changes. May all your letters receive satisfactory results!






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Positively encouraging

3/08/2014

Everyday Writing - The Letter of Complaint

At some point along the way, we'll probably write a letter to a manufacturer about shoddy merchandise or maybe a stray foreign object we find in a can of beans. It could also be unsatisfactory customer service or repairs. Whatever it is, the offending service or goods needs to be reported to the  organization. Bad stuff doesn't endear customers to any company. Customer service departments want to know about problems so they can be fixed. Emails are perfectly acceptable and actually help maintain a record of correspondence.

Small plastic part we found in a bag of pancake mix.
How do we write an effective letter of complaint? The tips below will get you on the right track.

First, direct it to the appropriate person or department. Usually that's the customer service department and most information is easily found at the company website. Don't address it to the CEO of a large company because you're going straight to the top.  Companies have a system in place for complaints, so use it. If it's a Mom and Pop enterprise, contacting the owner may be perfectly acceptable.

Second, don't make it personal or threatening. That particular tactic will immediately alienate the help you desire.  e.g. "Your XYZ doo wappies really stink. Why are you making such awful doo wappies? I'm going to sue you for every penny you've got."  My mother told me a long time ago that honey catches more flies than vinegar. Be professional and write in a formal manner. Reason and courtesy should be the hallmarks of this letter.

Third, be clear about the problem. Don't get sidetracked with other issues.
"My vacuum cleaner was repaired by Acme Repair on 2/3/2014. Since that date, it still doesn't vacuum properly and leaves pet hair/dirt on my carpets." If there was trouble ticket number or other information about the service call, please include it in the letter. It will help customer service to quickly locate the case.

Fourth, be specific about what you expect and be reasonable about that. Once I found a bolt in a bag of frozen vegetables. After contacting the company, submitting photos, and letting them know that a a free bag or two of vegetables would be acceptable, I received several coupons for free and highly discounted bags of vegetables, along with a letter of apology.  Finding the bolt certainly wasn't a multi-million dollar lawsuit material. Most things aren't and we all know about people who've pursued lawsuits over all sorts of minor issues. Don't be one of those. Legal action should always be the last resort.

Fifth, give the company time to respond. Nothing is resolved overnight and be prepared for that. Responses should be timely, however and if more than a few days go by for an initial response, you may want to call the company to follow up.

Here's a sample for your reading enjoyment:

March 11, 2014

Whatchamacallit Company
Customer Service Dept.
112 Main St.
Hickville, AZ  88888

Dear Sir/Madam:

I purchased a Supreme Whatchamacallit from a local retailer on February 28, 2013. The unit worked well for a few months, but I have been unable to get it to perform the transformer function again since December, 2013. The retailer referred me to the customer service department for a replacement. I've had two Whatchamacallits over the last 10 years and have always been pleased with their performance. This unit has been very disappointing and certainly not up to the quality of the others.

I look forward to hearing from you and I can be reached by email or by phone at 111-111-1111.  

Sincerely,

Inspector Gadget

Some companies are hard to deal with and others gladly make it right with a customer. I've run into both. Those who aren't committed to my satisfaction don't often see my business again. Many companies email surveys to you after an incident. Take full advantage to express your delight or disappointment about the service. Writing reviews on Angie's List or other places is also effective. A word of caution--don't rant in your review and make sure it's the truth. Companies who want to improve take those comments seriously and make changes. May all your letters receive satisfactory results!






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