How to Write an Effective Complaint Letter: A Guide + [ 5 Template Samples]

So you’ve been wronged at work or received a faulty product or service. It’s tempting to let your anger boil over, but what will that achieve? Instead of creating unnecessary chaos, why not write a complaint letter to address the issue and seek a productive resolution?

A complaint letter is a formal communication that expresses dissatisfaction, offense, grievance, or resentment regarding a product, service, or other matters. It allows you to voice your concerns and request appropriate actions to rectify the situation.

If you’re unsure how to structure a complaint letter, you can find various templates on Formplus that suit your purpose. Each type of complaint requires a specific format.

Tips for Writing an Effective Complaint Letter

Start off politely

Manners truly matter. By using a cordial tone, you increase your chances of receiving attention and assistance. On the other hand, letters that contain threats or are written in all uppercase may be disregarded or ignored. Avoid using any profanity, as it will likely lead to your complaint being dismissed. Keep your emails and letters concise, averaging around 500 words. Include all the necessary details to help track your problem.

Ask a question

Frame your request as a question. For example, ask “How can you fix this?” Clearly state what you want to be done and how long you are willing to wait for a response. Another effective phrase format is “I wish to complain in the strongest terms about.” Make sure your question is clear, easy to understand, genuine, and free of sarcasm.

Explain the problem

Clearly indicate the reasons for writing the letter. Highlight important details such as the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as where you purchased or received the goods or services. It is crucial to be concise and avoid beating around the bush. Make your explanation detailed and captivating to capture the reader’s attention.

Don’t blame the person you are dealing with

While writing your letter, maintain a courteous tone at all times. Regardless of how justified your complaint may be, avoid expressing anger, sarcasm, or threats. Remember that the person reading your letter may not be responsible for the problem.

Demonstrate your knowledge

If possible, try to convince the company that it failed to follow its own rules or broke the law. By highlighting any legal violations or internal policy breaches, you increase the likelihood of your complaint receiving proper attention. If your initial complaint fails to achieve the desired outcome, consider writing a follow-up letter with a more firm tone or contacting someone higher up in the company hierarchy.

Types of Complaint Letters

Formal Complaint Letter

A formal complaint letter is used to communicate concerns and voice issues to authorities. It is supported by a legal document that presents facts and legal reasons to support claims for the damages caused. Writing a formal complaint letter is one of the most effective ways to address problems with a product or service, prompting necessary action.

Product & Service Complaint Letter

This type of letter is written by a consumer to a manufacturer or retailer to address problems with a product or service. The aggrieved customer informs the relevant authority about the poor performance of a product or complains about the delivery of defective or damaged goods. Keep such letters concise, stating the problem clearly and the desired resolution.

Employee Complaint Letter

Employee complaint letters can be written by both employers and employees. As an employee, if you encounter an issue at work, such as harassment, it is essential to raise a formal complaint. When drafting an employee complaint letter, clearly identify the type of harassment, provide details, and propose a solution. Avoid using offensive language and focus on maintaining a professional tone.

How to Write a Complaint Letter (Etiquette & Sample)

Step 1: Start off with a greeting

Address your complaint letter to the relevant authority, such as the customer care department or human resources. If possible, address the letter to a specific contact person. This shows that you understand the appropriate channels for addressing issues. Begin the letter with a salutation, such as “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Dear [Contact Person].”

Step 2: Explain what you’re complaining about

Clearly state the reason for your complaint. Provide specific details, such as the date and description of the incident. Start with a direct statement, such as “I am writing to complain about the poorly packaged delivery I received from your logistics chain on October 18, 20XX.”

Step 3: If you’ve taken any prior steps, share them

If you have already taken steps to address the issue, mention them briefly. For example, you may have visited the store, made a phone call, or sent a prior email. Explain what actions you have taken so far and how they have not resolved your concerns. If you have spoken to someone, mention their name and summarize the details of your conversation.

Step 4: Attach copies of relevant supporting documents

If you have any supporting documents, such as receipts, warranties, or photographs, attach copies to your complaint letter. Clearly state in your letter which documents you are including. This adds credibility to your complaint. Remember to keep the originals for your reference and send only copies.

Step 5: How and when do you want this issue resolved?

Clearly express your desired outcome in relation to your complaint. Do you want a refund, a repair, a replacement, or some other resolution? State the timeline within which you expect the issue to be resolved. Make sure your timeline is reasonable to avoid any unnecessary conflicts.

Step 6: Sign off with your name and contact information

Include your contact information in the complaint letter to enable the recipient to reach you for further communication. Conclude your letter with a respectful closing, such as “Yours faithfully” or “Sincerely.” Sign your name below the closing.

Tired of receiving complaint letters? Sign up on Formplus to create an online complaint form. Embed it on your website and seamlessly collect customer complaints.

Complaint Letter Samples for Everyday Use

Sample 1: Complaint Letter for Poor Service

[Image: Insert relevant image]

To write a complaint about poor service, start by contacting the company directly. Address the manager or, if unavailable, the Human Resources department. Here is a sample letter to report bad customer service experienced with an employee:


The Manager
[Company/Organization name]

Subject: Complaint Letter for Poor Service

Dear [Name],

I regret to inform you that I experienced a major issue with the new instructor at your gym on [date]. I usually have private paid sessions with the instructor from 7 am to 8 am. However, on that day, he was conducting a session with another group during my allotted time.

As a result, I was unable to have my session and had to leave to attend other pressing engagements. What bothered me more was that the new instructor did not offer an apology for his conduct.

I kindly request that you take appropriate action regarding this matter.

Thank you for your attention.

[Your name]
[Contact number and signature]

Sample 2: Complaint Letter for Bad Product

If you have received a damaged or faulty product, it is important to address it promptly. Here is a sample letter to report a problem with a purchased product:

Peter Burke
5 Allen Avenue,
Maryland, CA 34555
October 7, 2019

Keri Hilson
Mansard Manufacturing
14 Bing Street.
Maryland, CA 34555

Re: Purchase of spoiled goods

Dear Miss Hilson,

I am writing to bring to your attention the purchase of spoiled goods on October 5, 2019.

When I made the purchase, I was assured that the goods would be fresh upon arrival. However, they were delivered in a spoiled condition. I have attached a photo of the goods as well as the delivery receipt.

I kindly request that you look into this matter and either refund my purchase or provide a replacement.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Feel free to contact me at your convenience: 555-6868;

Peter Burke
Enclosures: Photo and receipt

Sample 3: Complaint Letter for Harassment

If you experience workplace harassment, it is important to address the issue promptly. Here is a sample letter to report harassment:

[Name of Victim]
[Address of Victim]
[Phone Number of Victim]

[Name of Recipient]
[Designation of Recipient]
[Name of Organization]
[Address of Organization]

Dear [Name of Recipient],

I am writing this letter to inform you about the inappropriate groping and sexual advances I have faced at the hands of [Name of the Harasser]. I hold the position of [Position] in the company and have been employed for [number of years], with a previously unblemished work record.

The harassment began on [Date] when I was first transferred to this department and [Name of the Harasser] expressed that they were attracted to me. Since then, these advances have continued almost every day.

On [Date], I received an email from [Name of the Harasser] suggesting that we meet up after work. Then, on [Date], I received a voicemail from [Name of the Harasser] expressing a desire to engage in sexual activities in the workplace bathroom stall.

I reported this situation to my immediate supervisor after the second incident, but [Name of Harasser] has not stopped. While most of the advances have been verbal, I have recordings of two voicemails and one email from [Name of the Harasser]. Additionally, I have two witnesses, [Name of Witness One] and [Name of Witness Two], who can corroborate the harassment incidents.

I am currently experiencing emotional trauma and embarrassment as a result of this harassment, which is also affecting my relationship with my husband and impeding my performance at work.

I implore you to investigate this matter promptly and take appropriate action.

Yours sincerely,

[Signature of Victim]
[Name of Victim]

Sample 4: Employee Complaint Letter to HR

If you are facing issues with a colleague or supervisor in the workplace, it is crucial to report the situation to HR. Here is a sample letter addressing a complaint about a coworker:

Dear [HR],

My name is [Name], and I have been working as a [position] for the past [number of years]. I take pride in my work and have always been dedicated to my job. However, my experience has been severely impacted by one employee: [Name of Employee].

Despite trying other avenues to address this issue, I find myself forced to escalate the matter to the Human Resources department.

[Name of Employee]'s continuous misconduct and unprofessional behavior have become unbearable. It is affecting my performance and hindering my ability to work effectively. Here are a few examples of incidents [Numbered list of incidents with dates and details].

I kindly request your immediate intervention to resolve this problem and establish a professional, friendly, and productive work environment for all staff members.

Thank you for your understanding and attention to this matter.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Sample 5: Complaint Letter to Management

A manager’s problematic behavior can negatively impact the entire company. Writing a complaint letter to higher management is an effective way to address the issue. Here is a sample letter for a complaint against a manager:


Manager Operations,
[Company/Institute Name]
[Address/Branch Address]

Subject: Complaint Letter against Manager

Respected sir,

I hope this letter finds you well. I have been working in the research department (Department Name) of your company for the past [number of years]. Unfortunately, I find it necessary to write this letter to express my complaint about our department manager.

[Describe the problems and situation]

I am writing on behalf of the entire department. Our work environment is greatly affected by our manager's rude and uncouth behavior. We find it challenging to concentrate on our work due to the way we are treated. This manager's conduct diminishes our worth and treats us as if we are worthless.

I kindly request you to consider changing our manager or, at the very least, issuing a firm warning. The staff of the department would be grateful if this matter is resolved.

Sincerely yours,

[Your Name]
[Job Designation]
[Department Name]

Online Complaint Form Templates to Use

Workplace Complaint Template

Use this workplace harassment form template to allow employees and customers to report incidents of sexual harassment, bullying, and disrespectful behavior in the workplace. Embed this form in your company’s website or employee handbook. It is designed for HR personnel, employers, and company managers to address workplace harassment effectively.

Online Complaint Form Template

This online complaint form template is perfect for receiving customer complaints or employee feedback regarding your business or services. Customize the form to align with your brand and embed it on your website or social media pages. Customers can easily provide feedback by scanning a QR code or accessing the link. This versatile complaint form is suitable for any type of business.

Customer Complaint Form

The Customer Satisfaction Survey Template helps you measure customer satisfaction and gather their opinions about your product or service. By understanding how customers feel, you can identify areas that need improvement and areas where you excel. Customize this template or create your own using the user-friendly drag-and-drop online form builder.

Hotel Complaint Form

Hotels and guest houses can use this hotel feedback form template to improve their standards and receive valuable feedback from guests. Embed the form on your hotel booking site or send it to customers via email after their stay. This form allows guests to share their experiences, opinions, and reviews.


Writing a complaint letter is an effective way to express your concerns and seek resolution. Remember to use the correct tone, avoiding emotional language. The purpose of a complaint letter is to rectify and improve, not to assign blame. Recipients of a complaint letter should address genuine complaints with an open mind. Avoid immediate oral or written reactions and instead conduct a thorough investigation.