Complaints?? Write a Snail Mail
If you’ve ever had to deal with a large corporation, government agency, or other service provider, chances are likely that you’ve encountered a problem. If you’ve complained about the problem and found yourself brushed off or ignored, you may feel that it’s time to write a complaint letter. Complaint letters aren’t always fun, but sometimes they need to be written. In many cases, if people don’t complain, the problem agency at fault (i.e. company or government) won’t even know that the problem you and others may have experienced, even exists….
Complaint Letters are beneficial for multiple reasons. One, A letter on the desk gets noticed than 100’s of Email’s in the inbox. Two, the complaint letter is a documentation of the problem. If you need to prove the facts, The complaint letter can come in handy. You basically have the problem and the response to the problem documented. So in case at certain point of time, move to court, Complaint letters make Ur paper stuff that the court normally demands. As such complaint letters are extremely important, but the art of writing a complaint letter must never be overlooked.
I was once facing a problem with one of my ‘Airtel’ numbers. The scheme offered by the company was not made available to me for some reason. Numerous phone calls to the customer care only added to the the tension. Believe me, Phone calls made to the district manager were also being ignored. I was only being made false promises about the problem being solved. Every single time i had to explain the problem to new customer care executive. It was a traumatic experience.
I then visited the closes Airtel office with a letter addressing the problem. The person who attended me assured of the problem being solved in 2 days time as Airtel at that time was going through routine maintenance and he could not fix it immediately. I took a xerox copy of my letter and got that signed from the person attending, with exact date on which he claimed the problem being solved. He took my phone no and assured that he would fix the problem and give me a call.
Two days later, the problem was not solved, but this time the customer care executive gave me a call explaining the problem, and assured me of having the problem fixed in the next 2 days. The problem was fixed in 4 days, which had been extending for over a month that included a traumatic experience.
I used the same experience with my bank which debited money on some false charges, getting the point across with a letter and paying a visit in person helped solve the problem. Adding to that, I now have contact to the managers of the company. Any problem relating to these companies gets solved in a Giffy.
Writing a complaint letter has now become an art, with more blogs appearing on the internet offering tips and tricks to writing a good complaint letter. Interesting or not, I want this blog to share a few tricks that i learned thought the experiences.
Header’s, Obviously the top of Ur letter. They contain vital information, like the person it is being addressed to. If u do not know the name of the person, address it to the concerned department. They should also carry the date, this helps u in tracking the time if ur problem is not addressed.
Never address a complaint to the top management. chairman, CEO, MD are people responsible for the business of the company. Do not address it to the customer care either, they are people only responsible for forwarding complaints. Target the middle management like the branch manager, The Supervisor, Head of operations/ customer support etc.
Using proper titles instead of “Dear Sir/ Madam”. Do not generalize, Write the name of the person who the problem is being addressed to. If not ‘To whom so ever it may concern’ should forward the letter to the required person/ department.
Define Ur problem. Politely and clearly. It’s very important to be precise and clear so that they understand the problem more specifically. Politely is the important word here. U r talking to people who can get ur problem fixed, why get angry with them?? These people mostly belong to the senior management and demand respect.
Also include all prior ways which u have using to get the problem fixed. For Example:”An Average of 2 calls a day was made to the customer care center regarding the same.”
Telling them how the problem has affected u is a good way of getting them to sympathize with u. It also tells them the reason for Ur frustration. For example: ” It has been 2 weeks since the product was ordered, I expected my package to arrive on or around ‘this date’, but it did not arrive. The product was meant to be a gift to ‘someone’ on the occasion of ‘his’ birthday. However, the birthday has passed, and i had to buy the same product from a local store, costing me even more time and money.”
Explaining the problem alone should not be enough. Offer the a solution to the problem, or clearly explain what u want them to do about it. This is the part of the letter they are looking for to stop u from complaining. Without this, u offer them chances to get creative or finding ways to completely avoiding the problem. Be specific, threats about moving to a competitor should also help.
For example: “I have been a loyal customer to Ur services until this point. Most of my complaints seem to be unheard off. At this point I’m seriously considering to switch over to ‘competitor’. I have already suggested a few of my friend to switch over too after having a runaround for nearly a month. I’m not interested in any replacement’s or freebies to go with it. I just want my money back.”
If u r sure of some regulations the company has been violating, Tell them. Read their policies, Terms and Conditions and the contract that u signed with them to have more access to learning their violations.
U can also threaten to write to the media and the consumer courts if the problem is not solved. For example:”If i do not get a response within one week, I will be forwarding copies of this letter to the media for help.”
It’s time u tell them that u r not an irrational customer who is on a rampage against them. U are just a normal Human Being and even after being a loyal customer, the company decided to ignore matters.
Thank them for the time they had take to read the letter, sign off using Ur name. It is generally a nice idea to give Ur postal address, telephone number under Ur name so that they don’t have to look it up somewhere as a part of extra burden.
Other important Tips:
The complaint letter should be easy to read and understand. It is difficult to read with small prints and no paragraphs. It is a good idea to type the content, and print it out. Ur handwriting may not be readable. Also use spell check to make sure u never spell anything wrong. If u respect them by writing a good letter, they should respect u with the time to read it.
Inserting dates and numbers lets people know that u r tracking their actions. Facts strengthen ur position. Include copies of bills, documents if any. This improves ur chances in case of a ‘paper trial’.
Be Professional. A silent warning that u expect to be heard and dealt with respectfully should sound alarm bells in the reader’s head that if they don’t listen to ur problem, somebody else will.
Follow up in them to make sure ur complaint letter got there. It will also help u track the progress, to estimate the amount of time that may be required to get ur complaint resolved. Follow up calls usually put people responsible in a spot.
Always keep a copy to yourself, this is very very important.
If u have been already written a few letter’s with this calm and composed approach, and the problem still remains ‘not’ solved. Make copies of it, Usually carbon copies, to the people who u think may help. May be ur advocate, or a district magistrate or the media. Do not be respectful in the third letter, Just freak out.
Got the problem solved? It is always good to thank the person who solved ur problem, this helps in setting cordial relations with the person. In case of problem in future, address the problem to them because u have left them with a good impression. It takes very little time to thank a person for their time and effort… Write them a letter, Send them a card or just a little something that shows that u r a good sport.
Click on the image to enlarge. U may want to print out this image to use it as a template, if u happen to use it on a regular basis.
I have been using this trick for a while now, and i hope all the tips help u in getting problems solved, help u become a master at the art of writing a good complaint letter.Thanks Puja, bringing up this topic.
If u r looking at anything simpler, some sort of a template, it is available here.
Alternatively, when I’m only looking to solve matters by email, I ‘CC’ them to a few media email id’s. Things get heated up when the customer care sees it. Snail Mail always works, while alternative stuff helps in its own way.