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How to write a complaint email effectively
Writer: Francesca Tang   From:You May   Section:Special Column   Publish:2018-06-21   View:195

Life does not always go the way you want. What will you do if you receive bad service at a restaurant or you are unhappy with a product? You complain. You can complain to your friends, your partner or even your pets. But that does not help much. You could probably write a negative review on Yelp or Facebook. You might feel better but it is not possible to get your money back, or let the company know the full story. Therefore, I prefer to write a complaint email.


People who know me well enough are aware that I am old fashioned and proactive. I believe in “The Power of Words” and fighting for my own right. Also, as English is my second language, I feel more comfortable to write rather than calling the company and negotiate. In my opinion, the act of writing a complaint email not only is more official but it literally puts the complaint on record. In this sense, the chance of the dispute being resolved is bigger.


Recently, I have to write an email to a company to let them know of my frustration. I have told myself to keep a few key points in mind before I start writing the email.


Keep the email short and sweet

It is understandable that people have a lot to vent when they are unhappy. But the customer service representatives probably handle numerous complaints each day. A lengthy email does not necessarily mean it is effective. It will distract from the main focus of the complaint. Remember, organization of the email, which we will explore soon, is more important than the length of it.


Be objective and honest

No matter how frustrated or angry the customer is, being objective and honest in the email will make it sounds more valid. The company will probably talk to the related staff to get more information. Lying in the email is bad for the matter. 


Use ‘5Ws1H’

By using ‘5Ws1H’, I can keep my complaint email organized.


Why—Why do I write this email? Explain the purpose in the first sentence of the email.

When—When did the incident happen? Date and time are crucial as the restaurant or the company may need to talk to the shift manager or a particular employee at the said time.

Where—Where did it happen? Write clearly in the email the branch of the business if it is a chained store with different locations in your city.

Who—Who are involved in the incident? Was the manager notified at that time? Also, state in the email if other employees (even if you do not know their names) were present. They could be the witnesses.

What—What happened? As I stressed previously, make the long story short. Be concise in this part so the people who handle the complaint could focus on the main point. 

How—How do I want it to be resolved? Emphasize how frustrated you are and give suggestions on getting the problems resolved.


Include contact information

Don’t forget to include your name and contact information at the end of the email. Quote the account number or reference number as well. It will definitely speed up the process.


By writing to the company, it gives a chance for the staff to explain and make up for the unpleasant experience. It is in fact a win-win situation. I have been given compensation from the company and seen improvement of the shop after I had sent them a complaint email.



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