Because I can string more than three words together and form coherent sentences, some of my less-abled friends, and you know who you are, ask me to write complaint letters.

I have noticed that most of them cannot describe the situation without anger and tend to overestimate the effect on their lives. We are not speaking of injuries requiring medical attention or big-ticket items that require legal intervention, but minor annoyances and inconveniences.

The process is generally the same for all minor complaints.

  • Clearly Explain the Issue: Can you provide a clear and concise explanation of the problem you encountered, including relevant details such as dates, times, names of individuals involved, and any supporting evidence, including order numbers, receipts, photographs, or any other documentation you may have? Be as specific as you can in describing the issue, focusing on facts rather than your emotional reactions -- which seem to grow angrier with each telling.

  • Know the resolution you want: What action do you expect the individual or organization to take in response to your complaint? Are you seeking an apology, replacement, repair, refund, or compensation? You need to have an “ask” before you demand redress. Unless faced with a matter involving medical or legal intervention, forget pain, suffering, lost time, and spoiled opportunities when thinking about a satisfactory resolution. Unless you can provide a specific request that can be satisfied at an acceptable cost to the individual or organization, nothing much is likely to happen as “they” know the cost of legal action is usually time-consuming and cost prohibitive. That is, except for small claims court, which is available for matters that do not exceed a specific dollar amount.

  • Know who to contact: If you want to maximize the impact of your complaint, consider sending it directly to the individual at their legal address or an organization’s chief executive officer. The likelihood is that anything addressed to a CEO, even if marked “personal and confidential,” will be opened by an administrative assistant and routed to another individual for resolution.

  • Know how to contact: Forget e-mail, website response mechanisms, and telephone calls. Send your complaint with “copies” of your supporting documentation via FedEx or another high-impact, trackable service. Retain the receipt in your documentation pile. If you don't want to spend the money on a courier, that is an indication of the complaint's true worth.

  • Follow-Up: If you haven't received a response within a reasonable timeframe, say two weeks or ten business days, it's appropriate to follow up on your complaint. Send a polite and concise follow-up letter or make a phone call to inquire about the progress of your complaint. This shows your commitment to resolving the issue and may expedite the resolution process. Stay persistent but courteous.

As for the actual letter…

Keep it short, concise, and above all, polite and non-threatening.

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[City, State, ZIP Code]

[Email Address]

[Phone Number]


[Recipient's Name]

[Company Name if Applicable]


[City, State, ZIP Code]

Subject: [Request Outcome]

Dear [Recipient's Name],

I am writing to express my disappointment and request a [outcome] for a recent purchase I made from your company. I purchased [product name] from your online store on [purchase date], order number [order number].

Upon receiving the product, I discovered [significant defects that rendered it unusable.] The flaws include [describe the specific weaknesses in detail]. I was highly disappointed as I had high expectations for the product based on your reputation and [website's description and positive reviews.]

I have attached photographs of the defects for your reference [if applicable]. Additionally, I have enclosed a copy of the purchase receipt as proof of my transaction.

As a customer, I believe requesting [a full refund for the faulty product] is fair. I kindly ask that you initiate the return process and issue a refund in the original form of payment used for the purchase. I expect the total refund amount to be [mention the exact amount].

I understand that mistakes and product issues can happen, but I trust that your company values customer satisfaction and will take the necessary steps to rectify such situations promptly. I am confident that resolving this matter efficiently will contribute to maintaining your reputation as a reputable and customer-focused business.

Please provide me with clear instructions regarding the return process, including any necessary documentation or shipping labels. I kindly request that you initiate the refund promptly upon receiving the returned product.

I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to a swift resolution. Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the provided contact information. I expect a response within [a reasonable time frame, e.g., ten business days] to avoid further inconvenience.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.


[Your Name]

Bottom line…

I have reached the stage of my life where minor annoyances are not worth my time and trouble. My personal rule is simple, if the item costs less than $100 and resolving the issue would be a hassle, forget it and move on.

However, my life has been made immeasurably easier with Amazon and its liberal return policy. If I want a return, replacement, or refund, I simply click a link, print a QR code, and drop the item off, unpackaged, at my local UPS store or nearby store. The credit usually appears within 24 hours. Ezy-Peezy.

For my friends: Don’t be surprised when you get this blog post rather than a completed letter.

-- Steve

“Nullius in verba”-- take nobody's word for it!
"Acta non verba" -- actions not words

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS