The Power of a Complaint Letter

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The Power of a Complaint Letter
Every business hungers to be successful. Businesses want to put their best foot forward, and their best product to the consumer. However, on occasion, people become upset or disappointed when the product or service does not reach expectation. In this case, businesses often receive the dreaded complaint letter from customers. The purpose of a complaint letter is to bring a grievance to the attention of an owner or manager of the business, so action can be taken as soon as possible. When writing a complaint letter it is important to include appeals to the audience, structure of the letter, tone, and context. Also keep in mind, that playing into the emotions by usage of ethos, pathos, and logos can positively sway the result. Three complaint letters written by Ken Thomas, Chad Bradley, and Kyle Westergren are about having recently bought a pair of shoes from Reebok, PUMA, and Cool Sports Inc. Complaint letters are the reason that businesses strive to please their customers, and take into consideration the constructive criticism of another person. Before crafting an effective complaint letter, one must first realize who their audience is, and what the purpose is. Consider who will be reading the letter and how likely or unlikely it is that the recipient will be sympathetic toward the complaint presented. Be clear on solutions given, and what can be done in return to fix the problem. The writers of a complaint letter want to address their issue by appealing to a specific audience. This audience could be board members, general managers, or even CEOs. In this case, the three complaint letters written by Thomas, Bradley, and Westergren, have expressed their problem to the general managers of the stores in which they purchased the shoes, and are seeking some sort of credit towards a new pair of shoes. By asking for a credit, one also wants to provide the reader with reason as to why restitution is being asked of, which is why one must first recognize the organization and structure of a persuasive complaint letter.

The basic context and structure of a complaint letter is pretty simple. Usually, the letters will first contain a heading in the upper left hand corner. It will include all the credentials of the writer and business, including the address of both the addresser and addressee. Then, there is a greeting, such as “Dear Sir or Madam”. I have written a complaint letter before and usually put “To Whom It May Concern”, because it may be forwarded to different departments of the company. The opening paragraph should also include context of the situation. The context is basically a form of background information. In the letter written by Chad Bradley, he explains how he had left his shoes in his front porch overnight, and now they had shrunk at least three sizes (Bradley). This type of information should help picture the situation and should provide the writer’s problem to the reader. An account or tracking number can also be beneficial to the reader so that he or she may reference the order, see exactly what was purchased, and how much of a credit should be given if need be. The next section of the letter should include relevant dates or times of when the merchandise was purchased. In the letter to Cool Sports Inc. by Ken Thomas, he explains the chain of dates throughout his order. “I had been looking at your website since the beginning of June, placed my order on June 21st, and received my package on June 26th” (Thomas). This clarification of time can help the reader produce a timeframe of the events. The last section of a well-written complaint letter explains what type of restitution the writer wishes to receive; it shows the reader of the assertiveness the writer is trying to prove, without being rude or offensive. “To resolve the problem, I would like you to credit my account for the amount charged on my credit card” (Thomas) explains what Thomas would like done in order to please him, and...
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