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Effective complaint letters explain the problem and how you’d like the company to resolve it. Try to be clear and include only the details you need to describe the problem and the resolution you want.

Information To Include in Your Letter

Avoid writing an angry, sarcastic, or threatening letter. The person reading it probably didn’t cause the problem, but may be very helpful in resolving it.

Give the basics

  • Include your name, address, and phone number.
  • Include your account number, if you have an account with the company.
  • Give the product name and its serial or model number.
  • State the date and place of purchase.

Tell your story

  • Explain the problem.
  • Give a brief history of your efforts to resolve the problem, if the information helps explain why you’re writing to the company.

Tell the company how you want to resolve the problem

  • State the solution you want, like a refund, repair, exchange, or store credit. Or, consider asking the company to suggest a resolution.
  • List the documents you’re enclosing, if any. Remember — only send copies, not originals.
  • Let them know how to reach you.

Be reasonable

File your complaint

  • Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy for yourself.
  • If you file your complaint online, print the screen or take a screenshot before you hit “submit.”

Sample Letter

Use this sample letter to write a complaint about a product or service.

Your Address

Your City, State, Zip Code
 [Your email address, if sending by email]


Name of Contact Person [if available] Title [if available] Company Name
Consumer Complaint Division
[if you have no specific contact] Street Address
City, State, ZIP Code

Re: [Your account number, if you have one]

Dear [Contact Person or Consumer Complaint Division]:

On [date], I [bought, leased, rented, or had repaired/serviced] a [name of the product, with serial or model number or service performed] at [location and other important details of the transaction].

Unfortunately, [your product has not performed well (or) the service was inadequate] because [state the problem, like the product doesn’t work properly, the service wasn’t performed correctly, I was billed the wrong amount, or something was not disclosed clearly or was misrepresented, etc.].

To resolve the problem, I would appreciate a [state the action you want, like a refund, store credit, repair, exchange, etc.]. Enclosed are copies [do not send originals] of my records [include receipts, guarantees, warranties, canceled checks, contracts, model and serial numbers, and any other documents] concerning this purchase [or repair].

I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem. I will wait until [set a reasonable time limit] before seeking help from a consumer protection agency or other assistance. Please contact me at the above address or by phone at [phone number with area code].


Your name


Example Complaint Letter

Here’s an example of what a complaint letter might look like:

Graphic is an example of a letter that uses the format of the sample letter.

Report Fraud or Deception

If you think a company or seller has been dishonest, contact your state attorney general or consumer protection office. Tell the Federal Trade Commission too, at The FTC doesn’t resolve individual complaints, but your report helps law enforcement detect patterns of wrongdoing and may lead to an investigation.

For more help resolving a customer problem, check out these ideas and strategies.