Let’s first take a look at the
advantages and disadvantages of each before concluding which is the most
Picture this scenario: you have
bought a faulty item from a shop and you take it back to complain. You go
directly to the shop assistant and tell them your problem. They say they cannot
help you, which makes you angrier, to the point perhaps where you start insulting
the poor shop assistant. RESULT: This will do you no favours, like getting any
compensation, or even a refund. If you go directly to the first person you see
within the organisation you are complaining about, you may be wasting your time
as they may be powerless to take any action or provide you with a solution. So
the important lesson to be learnt is to make sure firstly that you are speaking
to the relevant person, the one who has the authority to make decisions.
Perhaps you don’t have time to
actually go and see the relevant authority in person so you decide to make a
phone call. The problem with complaining by phone is that you may be passed
around from department to department, making you more and more angry until you
finally give up. Either that or the phone is hung up on you, which leaves you
fuming even more. Furthermore, any contact can be denied.
The same applies to emails too,
which can additionally be deleted, or even manipulated.
This leaves us with the
traditional letter. When we first make a complaint the usual response is a
request to write a letter: “Can you put that down in writing please?”
The advantages of writing a
letter of complaint are that:
• Written records are
still very important, e.g. in legal matters as opposed to a fax or email.
• You have complete
control over what is being said, and you can present evidence.
• You can be prepared, and
plan your letter carefully.
• You are able to keep
copies of anything sent in writing.
• You have time to reflect
and/or consult as opposed to complaining on the spot.
So here are some useful points
to consider when writing your letter:
• State what went wrong exactly.
You need to provide concrete evidence, with documentation, for example a
receipt, where possible. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence,
including relevant documentation. You also need to state where, when, who was
involved, what was said or done. Photographic or video evidence boosts your
• What do you expect from your complaint? If you are complaining
about a situation at work, focus on taking action to improve situations rather
than spending your time complaining.
• State a time limit for
when you expect a reply.
• Be assertive, and stay
• Make sure you address
the complaint to the relevant person.
This will be more likely to
ensure that you will achieve a satisfactory outcome from your complaint. Good