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Ombuds Office

Ombuds Office

Self-Help Materials

Writing a Letter of Complaint

The purpose of a letter of complaint is to explain a situation and provide the recipient with what s/he needs to know in order to take corrective action and resolve your problem. There are at least three reasons to write a letter of complaint: (1) when it is required of a dispute resolution process, (2) when there is no complaint form already provided, or (3) when you need to document your attempts to address and resolve a problem.

The most effective complaints are the ones that explain, clearly and concisely: what happened, including key details and documents; what you think would be a fair resolution; and what you have done to try and resolve it.

When you have decided to draft a letter of complaint, think about your audience:

  • Who is my reader?
  • What does my reader know about this subject? What does the reader need to know?

In your letter, state directly what is wrong, present the facts, and ask for action. Below find questions to consider:

  • Does the reader have a way to reach you? Include your name, address, phone numbers and e-mail address.
  • Can the reader read your letter? Type your letter whenever possible.
  • Is your letter brief and to the point?
  • Does the reader know what you would like done about the problem? Have you provided a reasonable request or action?
  • Does the reader have all the information s/he need to understand the problem? Have you included copies of any documents regarding your problem?
  • Will the reader be offended by the tone of your letter? Have you removed any threats, insults or sarcasm from your draft?
  • Have you kept of copy of your complaint letter and all related documents for your own records?

A well-written letter of complaint can be a useful tool for addressing and resolving a problem. If you have any questions or would like assistance with your problem, contact the Ombuds Office.