There Are Too Many States These Days: the art of writing effective complaint letters

Sometimes you need to complain. Sure life is easier when you let slights slide, but there will be occasions when your gripes deserve to be placed on the record. There is an art to writing an effective letter of complaint, especially if you hope to have a situation rectified or achieve some measure of justice. These easy-to-follow suggestions will show you how.

Control yourself. Putting an unhinged rant down on paper can be therapeutic, but if you want results, then remain poised. Readers tend to be put off by endless streams of invective, believing them to be the work of a crackpot. Take a couple of deep breathes before beginning to compose your piece. Consider the reader’s dignity, as well as your own.

Keep it brief. Nothing is more off-putting to a reader then to be presented with an expansive sea of text, especially if it is uninterrupted by paragraph breaks, punctuation and good sense. A brief message stands a much better chance of being read and responded to. Also, don’t be afraid to end a sentence with a preposition.

Start with a compliment. Dalton had it right when he advised the staff at the Double Deuce to always be nice. If you want the reader to be sympathetic to your cause, butter them up. Using a profanticized version of the reader’s name in the salutation is an example of the wrong approach. Also, don’t be afraid to make up words.

Keep it clean. This point carries forth from the previous. Swearing is natural when one is upset. Just know that it can also be threatening and offend the sensibilities of those on the receiving end. You can never go wrong by not swearing, unless you are a rapper or in a long checkout line at Walmart.

Stick to your strengths. You many have a whole litany of complaints to get off your chest, but exhaustive attempts to air them all will paint you as a tiresome crank. Identify one or two of the most significant issues and present your strongest case, then shrug off the rest.

Be logical. Let passions and hatreds subside lest baseless accusations run wild. Apply critical reasoning to your charges to make sure they hold water. Nothing is more embarrassing than delivering a healthy lambasting only to find out that you’re the one at fault.

Call for action! After you’ve posted your letter, you’ll daydream a good deal about the life-shattering shame that it will inflict upon your target. But how can you really be sure? Firmly insist that they respond. Appeal to their sense of fairness and stewardship.

Prepare to be ignored. Even if you follow these suggestions to a tee and produce a letter worthy of a Pulitzer, it is still the receiver’s proactive to toss it in the waste bin. Should this occur, there are no more rules to follow. Confront them in a parking lot and do what you must to get your point across.

I hope this helps.


About this BLOG

I’ve been a professional business writer for over 20 years. It’s what I do best and I’ve learned some things along the way. I’ll share them with you here and you’ll do well. You may still want to hire me to do some writing when you’re busy doing the things that you do best. I’ll be happy to help out.

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