Writing a Complaint Letter
Letters relating to complaints call for the utmost tact and restraint by both parties. Many complaints are genuine and must be taken up with the suppliers: (i) the wrong goods may have been sent;
(ii) the quality may not be satisfactory;
(iii) the goods may have been delivered damaged, or late;
(iv) the prices charged may be excessive, or not as agreed.
Sometimes buyers find fault with the goods as an excuse to escape from their contracts, either because they no longer want the goods or because they have found that they can get them cheaper elsewhere.
When you have a genuine complaint you may feel angry, but you must not show this in the letter you write, if only because the supplier may not be to blame.
1. Making a complaint
A. Plan of the letter.
When making a complaint plan your letter as follows.
(i) Begin by regretting the need to complain.
(ii) Mention the date of the order, the date of delivery and the goods complained about.
(iii) State your reasons for being dissatisfied and ask for an explanation.
(iv) Refer to the inconvenience caused.
(v) Suggest how the matter should be put right.
B. Rules to be followed.
Observe the following rules:
(I) Make your complaint at once. Delay weakens your position and makes it more difficult for your supplier to find out why things went wrong. Assume that your supplier will want to put matters right. It is, after all, in his interests to do so.
Don’t assume that your supplier is to blame; he may have a perfectly good defence, as in the correspondence.
Confine your complaint to a statement of the facts and a polite enquiry as to what your supplier proposes to do about it.
You may or may not decide to suggest how the matter should be put right, but don’t suggest how the mistake may have occurred. That is a matter for the supplier. Above all, avoid rudeness; it may well create ill-feeling and cause the supplier to be unwilling to be helpful.
2. Dealing with a complaint
A. Supplier ‘s attitude.
There are three reasons why a supplier should be glad to hear customers who are dissatisfied.
1. He naturally wants to know when customers have cause to complain. He would rather receive complaints than have customers abandon him and take their trade elsewhere.
2. It gives him the opportunity to explain, to put things right and to preserve customer good will.
3. It may suggest ways in which his product or service could be improved.
B. Rules to be followed
1. It is often said that the customer is always right. It is certainly sound practice to assume that he may be right.
2. If you cannot deal with a complaint promptly, acknowledge it at once. Explain that you are looking into it and that you will send a full reply later.
3. If the complaint is unreasonable, point this out politely and in an agreeable manner.
4. If you are to blame, admit it readily; express your regret and promise to put matters right.
5. Never try to excuse yourself by blaming any of your staff; you are, after all, responsible for what they do.
6. Whether you allow the complaint or not, thank the customer for telling you about it.