In general, complaint email is something we would never want to write or send. This is not a common type of business mail so many people might find it confused when writing one for the first time. Don’t worry, in this post, we will tell you step-by-step how to write a professional complaint email.

When do we need to write this such an unpleasant type of email?

Everything can never be always smooth and have no mistake, especially in business. The need to write a complaint letter is common when we do not receive something as we expect, we are discontent towards a product, a company or a person, even our business partner. Therefore it can be sent to different audiences.

For example, you write a business complaint email when:

  • You are a customer and you have bought a bad product.
  • You are an employee and unhappy with your employer, your colleague or a situation in your workplace (discrimination, harassment, unprofessional behavior, etc).
  • And many other cases.
Keep calm and send a complaint email
Keep calm and send a complaint email (Photo: Alex Iby via Unsplash.com)

Types of complaint email

Depending on who send the email, we can form business complaint email into 2 types:
– Personal complaint email: These are written by (yes, the name says it all) just a person, such as a consumer who wants to replace a product, get a refund after unsatisfied with a product/service.

– Professional complaint email: These are written on behalf of an organization/company. This type is more work-related.

How to write a complaint email step-by-step

Step 1: Starting and Greeting

The first thing you need is the address of the company/person. Once you have their address, check the relevant department which you will send the mail to.

For example, if you are writing to complain about a company’s product, your best chance of success will come from directing the letter to the customer service department. You can easily find the company’s email address on their website, advertising materials or any product packaging.

And multiply your chance by directing to the customer service manager or director personally if you find out their mail address. It’s the best if you could send directly to the manager and Cc it to the service department’s mail and even Bcc to the company’s mail. Begin your letter with Dear Mr, Mrs, Miss or Ms.

Step 2: Explain your problem (Why are you complaining?)

Write down the key details of the situation including when you discovered it and how it shouldn’t have appeared.

Give them as many details as possible. The very first lines of the letter should draw attention to your complaint immediately. They may be very busy and won’t be able to identify the point in a 5000-word-letter.

Example:

I am writing today to complain about the poor service I received from your company on October 9, 2018

Step 3: Write about what you have done to resolve it (optional)

It can be anything such as a telephone call or a visit to the store. Certainly, you still haven’t got the result you want. Therefore, you really need to write this complaint email.

Step 4: Attach copies of supporting documents (What evidence do you have?)

These may consist of receipts, guarantees, warranties, copies of checks you sent and even photos, records or videos.

Make sure DON’T send the originals. Just send copies so there’s no chance your information being lost or mislaid. Think further that one day should you need to provide evidence to someone else (the judge, for instance).

Step 5: How would you like to resolve the issue?

In this section, you will tell them what you want to be done to fix the issue. This will help to avoid making the situation more complicated for both sides.

For example, are you asking for a talk, a repair, a replacement, a refund or a compensation?

Don’t make any threat to take legal action in this first communication. That may be the solution you ultimately require, but be patient, send your complaint mail first and wait for a response.

Step 6: When/how do you want them to respond?

You no doubt want to end the issue as soon as possible, and so may they. Telling exactly how long you can wait is also a way to hurry them. It is super easy to make threats at this point, but keep calm is the key. You are mad and if you make them mad too, things will get madder, trust me.

Why do we need to set a time limit? They may get dozens of letter every day, if not hundreds. Chances are, it can take from 1 month to forever to get a reply. I bet you are not that patient.

Step 7: Finish the email

Do it respectfully. Thank the recipient for their assistance. Give them your address or number to reach you to resolve the matter. Making their job a lot easier will also result in an efficient outcome for you.

Don’t sign off the letter with “Best,” or “Yours truly” because they’re not something should appear in a business mail.

Here are some useful words and phrases

– Opening by simple greeting:

Dear contact person/organization name//Mr/Mrs/Ms

– Tell them your problem, shortly:

  • Customer complaint: I am writing today to complain of the poor service/product [name of the product, with serial or model number, or service performed] I received from your company on [date].
  • Employee complaint: I have been working as a [position] for our company for the past [length of month/year working]. As a part of this working environment, I feel it my duty to formally report a complaint, against a fellow employee named [his/her name who you are complaining]
  • Business partner complaint: Our companies have been working together for the last [length of cooperation]. However, things didn’t go well in the last [weeks/months/case]. According to our contract, I think we must complain about these things:…

– Explain further: the length of this part depends on you and your matter, but it’d better be easy to understand and not too negative

Unfortunately, your service/product has not performed well/I was billed the wrong amount/ something was misrepresented/etc.

Of course, this made me disappointed. I always valued and trusted each and every one of your service/product. But not this time.

– Tell them about your desire:

I would like to ask for a full refund of the [price] (state the specific action you want: refund, repair, exchange, etc).

Enclosed are copies of my records [receipts, guarantees, warranties, serial numbers and/or anything you have].

– Set your time limit:

I look forward to your immediate reply and a resolution to my problem. I will wait until [time limit] before seeking help from a consumer protection agency for investigation. Please contact me at the above address or by phone at [your phone number] during business hours.

– Ending your letter by:

“Yours sincerely”, “Sir” or “Madam” (if you know their gender)

Things will get resolved soon if you complain in a right way
Things will get resolved soon if you complain in a right way (Photo: NeONBRAND via Unsplash.com)

And here are some examples for you:

Example #1: Complaining about a bad product

When reading this, try imagining that you have just bought a terrible pizza from X Pizza.

Dear Mr. X,

I am writing today to complain of the very terrible pizza (Pepperoni pizza, L size) I bought from your South East brand on 10 July 2018, at around 1 pm.

I have been X Pizza’s loyal fan since 2012. I know exactly how my pizza should taste like and how I should enjoy it. But not this time. I’m sure that pizza had been cooked wrong. The smell is unacceptable and it tastes like it is rough. I could not eat a single piece and had to throw it away.

Enclosed are copies of my bill at that purchase and a picture of that pizza. I think you would easily recognize how different it is from X Pizza’s other normal ones.

I look forward to your immediate reply and a resolution to my problem. I will wait until the end of next week (18 July) before seeking help from a consumer protection agency for investigation. Please contact me at the above address or by phone at 09xxxxxxxxx during business hours.

Thank you for your assistance.

Yours faithfully,

Your name

Example #2: Complaining about a bad service from the partner on behalf of the company

Dear Mr.Sprouse,

I am John Handson from B’in Ltd. I have been asked by the Board of Directors of our company to formally advise you that the Board is dissatisfied with LC’s level of service. There’ve been a number of incidents that transpired during last June up to now.

The ongoing issues began shortly after the regular maintenance was done in May. Up to that point, we were quite satisfied with your company’s service at our office building.

This mail is with specific reference to the series odd elevator breakdowns that occurred continuously recently. This caused our more than 100 employees to use only one elevator in the last 2 months.  

We request LC to take necessary actions immediately to fix the problem. If in 2 days, there would be no one from LC come to our building to repair the elevators, the course of the upcoming service contract this year will be canceled without penalty (as per Sect. 4d of the contract).

Respectfully,

Your name

Take these notes carefully if you don’t want to be complaint back

  • Quickly get to your problem

It’s always better to be direct and succinct. Don’t write 1234 words about the weather, the good memories you had with the receiver in order to comfort or strong words describing how angry you are. Just clearly explain the situation. It’s not worth wasting both your and their time.

  • Tell them about your desire

You should, definitely, include your expected resolution in the mail the more clearly the better. You don’t spend up to 10-30 minutes writing for nothing. And (again) don’t forget to set a time limit for the solution. You can also ask for an early reply.

  • Write it respectfully

You might be angry or very dissatisfied now. But being polite is still a must (in not just writing emails but everything you do). It doesn’t matter whom you are writing to, use a positive and respectful tone.

  • Don’t be afraid

Complaining is not something mean if your complaint is reasonable and it must not be negative. Sometimes it’s good for your receiver if your mail can make them realize their wrongdoings/problems and improve in the future. Be honest, straight, comfortable and remember you are not a witch who is harming other people. Sometimes, this type of email is so common that several major businesses have to deal with on a daily basis.

Overall, writing a complaint email is not too easy but it’s not as hard as you think. We hope this post will help you know how to write a complaint email effectively and get action from your complaint email. Remember: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”!

Writing emails, especially business ones seem hard at first because we have to make sure about every single word. But when you’re get used to it, you will find out that the “secret” is simple: just use all useful words and phrases which have been set as a format.

Your only problem now is how to learn them? I suggest you using smart apps (such as eJOY eXtension). You can learn new words and phrases every day until a day you don’t have to “google” whenever write anything anymore!

Install to Chrome now!

You can also check out our blog on How to Improve English writing skills or other blog posts about Business English. Leave a comment about the next topic you want to learn.