How to Write a Good Letter of Complaint

A letter of complaint—there is a very obvious reason why many people ask how to write a letter of complaint. They are often imbued with anger after a certain company or service provider failed them in some way. The automatic response in such circumstances is to lash out with a barrage of harsh, unkind, and hurting words.

However, lashing out at those who have disappointed us does more harm than good. Nevertheless, we must not sit back in silence and soak it in when we’ve been severely disappointed. For the good of everyone involved, we must speak out. One of the best ways of going about it is to write a letter. This method, being formal and respectful, proves very effective.

Let us see then how we can go about writing a letter of complaint. I will lead you through the steps of writing this type of letter right away.


Step one: Get your Purpose Clear in Mind


The first step before writing the letter is to get your purpose or goal clear in mind.

Why are you writing this letter?

What do you hope to achieve?

Very often, people write letters of complaint to voice their displeasure at a lack of competence, a failure to fulfill expectations, or a dismal lack of professionalism on the part of a company or an individual. The goal of such letters is to get the offender to pay for the inconveniences.

Your goal should not be to embarrass or disparage but to kindly and respectfully air your complaints. No matter how much you’ve been disappointed or are hurting, try to be as respectful as possible.

Once you’ve got your goal clear in mind, you are ready to move on to the next step.


Step Two: Plan your work


It is always a good idea to plan your work before you set out to write. This not only helps you to know what to write, but also to write it in an organized manner.

Remember that your letter will comprise of three basic parts: the opening paragraph, the main body and the conclusion. Therefore, make a draft, and under each section, jot down in point form the information you are going to include in your letter.

Here is an example:

Imagine that I went to a restaurant which boasts of the best possible service. However, I was terribly disappointed by the incompetence, lack of professionalism, and lack of customer care. I decide to air my complaints in a letter to the manager.

Here is how I go about planning my work:


Paragraph one:

State reason for writing letter: to complain about unsatisfactory service.


Expand on complaints.

Paragragh two:

  • State first complaint: waiter’s incompetence and bad attitude towards customer.

Paragraph three:

  • Second complaint: slow service

Paragraph four:

  • Third complaint: food quality very poor.

Paragraph five:

  • Call to action.
  • Demand compensation.



Give contact details: email address, residential address.


Note how orderly the letter is going to be. In the body, each complaint will have it’s own paragraph. All in all, this letter will have six paragraphs.

After planning like this, we are able to move to the next step:


Step Three: write your letter


It is now time to write your letter.

Start with the first paragraph of course. It must be concise and straight to the point. Indicate very clearly, in your very first sentence, the reason why you are writing the letter.

Owing to the very poor service that I received on the 1st of August at your restaurant, Five Hearts, I wish to air my complaints. I was unhappy with the staff’s attitude and also the quality of food.

Very straight to the point. We do not need to add any more. Note that the first paragraph is a brief summary of your reasons for dissatisfaction. Traditionally, you may write:

I am writing to air my complaints about the very poor service that I received at your restaurant, Five Hearts, on the 1st of August. I was unhappy with the staff’s attitude and also the quality of food.

But since they know you are writing,  I prefer you say:

I would like to air my complaints about the very poor service that I received at your restaurant, Five Hearts, on the 1st of August. I was unhappy with the staff’s attitude and also the quality of food.

Now let us move to the body.

Remember, each specific complaint gets its own paragraph.

So here we go:

Firstly, the staff portrayed a large amount of incompetence and a bad attitude towards customers. No one attended to me for about ten minutes, and when the waiter finally showed up, he showed a severe lack of interest. He had to take my order three times, but even so, he still brought me the wrong food!

Secondly, the service was very slow. It took nearly an hour for my food to be fully prepared. What made matters worse was that after waiting for so long, the waiter brought the wrong food and he had to take it back.

Thirdly, the food itself was of very poor quality. It was quite cold and tasteless. Immediately I reached home, I suffered from very bad diarrhea which lasted for two days.


See how I place each complaint in its own paragraph. It is good to use words and phrases like ‘to begin with’ ‘firstly’ ‘secondly’ ‘furthermore’, to introduce each complaint.


After airing your complaints, the rational thing to do is demand for appeasing action on the part of the people involved:

All these things considered, I feel I need to be compensated. In addition, I demand that you improve the service at Five Hearts restaurant or shut it down as the service being offered is hazardous to the health of your customers. If you do not do either of these, I will report it to the authorities myself.    


 Finally, offer contact details and the desire to commucate as soon as possible to settle the complaints:

Please contact me at the address above or the following email address: I would love to hear from you as soon as possible.


Now we move to the last Step:


Step Four: Proof read


Read through the letter and make needed corrections. Remember that this is a formal letter, therefore, endeavour to use formal language. Make sure you have used the correction complimentary close. If your salutation is Dear Sir, you should close off with Yours Faithfully. Review this article for more information on this:

How to write a formal letter

Now, let us finalise our sample and see how it looks like:

sample of letter of complaint



You should be. You have just learnt how to write a letter of complaint!

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