Business letters are formal documents with a well-defined set of criteria. Ignoring these recommendations compromise the quality of the letters and, in some cases, significantly decreases their efficiency. The following paper presents a critique of an improperly written complaint letter and provides an example that addresses the detected issues.
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The complaint letter in question has several issues. First, the text of the letter starts with a redundant expression (“I’m sure you will agree”). Also, the author uses two full sentences to provide general information on the role of customer support in the business. The letter also features redundant and irrelevant information in several paragraphs, including the account of dealing with the competitors’ offers.
Another issue, which, in my opinion, is the most apparent one, is the heavy use of antagonizing messages throughout the paper. For instance, the author constantly describes the quality of customer support as “pathetic,” which cannot be considered a valid assessment of a service. On some occasions, Mr. Smith also provides unsubstantiated recommendations on the company’s staff training policies, implying the inadequate level of professionalism. Next, he uses expressions with strong negative connotations such as “you ought to know.” Finally, the letter’s author makes provoking statements that surpass the reasonable threshold, such as demands to fire the involved employee and make a public apology.
Third, the structure of the letter is inappropriate. While the paragraphs can be matched roughly with the necessary components of a complaint letter, substantial portions of it, most notably the summary of the issue, are missing. Some important details, such as the likely cause of malfunction and the justification for the refusal provided by the employee are only briefly mentioned.
Considering the information above, it would be reasonable to suggest the following letter:
John Smith, 9889 Pleasant Street, Dartmouth
Date: February 5, 2014
Owner, Wondertron Industries, 8998 Robie Street, Halifax
Dear Sir or Madam,
I require a refund of $29.95 plus tax on the purchase of a WonderCon 9000 from one of your stores.
After buying your product, I decided to assemble it myself and avoid a $5 fee required for the service of a certified assembler. For this purpose, I located and downloaded an instruction manual on the Internet. After two uses, the device has stopped working. However, the store employee refused to accept the return because the unit was not assembled by the requirements.
The requirement to use the services of a certified assembler is mentioned on the sales receipt. However, the information was not specified during the sale of the unit. Also, the package does not contain appropriate assembly instructions, which was the main cause for the insertion of a coupler (the likely cause of the malfunction).
Please issue me a refund of $29.95 plus tax as soon as possible. Otherwise, I will be forced to take this matter to the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. Also, please instruct me on the procedure of returning the malfunctioning unit.
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As can be seen, the suggested letter contains a concise summary, provides the important background details, clearly formulates the complaint, and concludes with a strong identification of the expected actions. Also, the letter does not contain antagonizing expressions. In this form, the letter is more appropriate from a formal standpoint.