ENG 305J: Technical Writing
Winter 2003
Dr. Shannon Lakanen
Complaint Letter
  A claim letter is written to lodge a complaint against a business or organization. For this assignment, you must write a professional claim letter to an actual person at an actual business or organization about an experience you actually had.  The complaint may be about a product or service you received from the company or organization. In order to complete the assignment you must:
  • write to the correct address and person or department for lodging your specific complaint
  • provide a detailed account of your dissatisfaction
  • provide the appropriate evidence to support your claim
  • turn in a rough draft, final draft to be graded, and final draft to be mailed, two copies of all attachments, and an addressed, stamped envelope

We will mail one of copy of your final draft and attachments to the appropriate reader, and you will turn the others in to me for evaluation.

Traditional Format
  There are usually no real advantages to deviating from the traditional business letter format. For the purposes of this assignment, you should stick to this format. The only exception would come if you are printing the letter on stationary which includes your return address (in which case, you would obviously omit the return address from the opening lines of the letter.

Here is an annotated example of the mandatory format
for the final draft of the claim letter.

Sample Complaint Letters
  Here are some sample letters written to lodge complaints about specific policies or products offered by companies:


Grading Criteria
  I will evaluate your claim letter based on criteria which I've broken down into the following categories.
  • Does the letter inform readers of a problem? 
  • Does the request seem reasonable in light of the complaint? 
  • Does the letter direct and convince readers to take action? 
  • Reader
  • Is the letter addressed to a specific reader or department?
  • Is there some mention of your history with the company?
  • Is there a quick, clear statement of purpose early in the letter?
  • Are the claim and evidence convincing and reasonable?
  • Is there a clear request for what you want done?
  • Information
  • Is there a clear description of the problem? 
  • Are all essential pieces of evidence (copies of receipt, proof of purchase, bills, previous correspondence, etc.) included?
  • Is the request detailed enough to act on? 
  • Is contact information provided for a response? 
  • Organization
  • Does the letter follow a traditional business letter format?
  • Does the argument follow a logical pattern (chronological, point-to-point, etc.)
  • Are lists used for point-by-point descriptions of problems, chronological arrangements of events, or in other appropriate situations?
  • Is there a clear statement of purpose early in the letter?
  • Style
  • Is the letter free of mechanical errors?
  • Is the tone professional — firm yet polite and reasonable?
  • Is the writing style enjoyable, clear, and concise?
  • Is the letter signed?
    Helpful Links
      Some sites that might interest you as you work on this assignment:
    Claim Letter with Annotations
    Extreme Complaint Letters by Christopher Scanlon
    Better Business Bureau Online Complaint Filing
    Bad Ads:  if you need inspiration ...
    Amnesty International Letter Writing Guide
    A Sample Adjustment Letter (sort of)