Formal Complaint Letter: How to Write (6 Examples)

Service failure occurs now and then when you buy products or use the services of a business or government. Usually, when it happens, service failure can cause many problems for you. It is when you write a formal complaint letter.

A formal complaint letter is a letter that you write to express your dissatisfaction regarding such service failure.

The letter typically addresses any form of resentment that might arise from service failure due to buying a product or service. By writing a formal letter of complaint, you express your dissatisfaction and concerns directly to concerned authorities regarding unfair situations against another individual or some other problems at work or home where you seek a positive outcome. It is a better and more formal way to approach business and workplace issues than shouting or ranting. Therefore, an ideal letter should be direct and tasteful, while avoiding ranting and raving incoherently.

If you are unsure how to write this letter, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn how to write one with examples you can use.

What is a Formal Complaint Letter?

Like the name suggests, a formal complaint letter is written to express dissatisfaction over poor products or services. Such letters are usually addressed to concerned authorities and accompanied by facts and legal documents. Such documents might be payment receipts or other documents that prove your claims, depending on the situation.

When written well, formal letters can be practical tools that help you get the attention of relevant authorities for compensation. In addition, it motivates other troubled consumers, persuades concerned authorities to take appropriate action, and makes defaulters more accountable, responsible, and responsive.

Free Templates

Here are some free, customizable templates for you:

Great Printable Formal Complaint Letter Template 01 as Word Document

Great Printable Formal Complaint Letter Template 02 as Word Document

Great Printable Formal Complaint Letter Template 03 as Word Document

Free Professional Formal Complaint Letter for a Television Cabinet Sample as Word File

    Reasons to Write One

    There are many reasons you can decide to write a complaint letter. For example, you can write letters regarding grievances, offenses, wrongdoings, resentments, etc., from using a product or service. Whatever your reason, you must know that you have a right to complain. All citizens have the fundamental right to seek justice in the event of injustice, and the first step towards this is to file a complaint.

    How do I Write a Formal Complaint Letter?

    The first thing to know about writing a letter is to write it in a respectful tone. The truth is, having to complain can be frustrating but writing the letter politely gives an excellent impression to the concerned person. It also increases your chance of getting a resolution as fast as possible.

    Here is how you can write an effective letter to get the answer you need as soon as possible:


    The header is the first part of the letter of your formal complaint. Here you will find information regarding the letter.

    An ideal header should have the following:

    • Date: Remember to include the date when you are writing the letter. Writing the date is usually the first thing to note on the left side of the paper.
    • Your name and address: You should introduce yourself, including your address on the left side of the letter.
    • Receiver’s name and address: On the same left side, just below your name and introduction, you should add the recipient’s name, address, and pin code, if necessary.
    • The letter’s subject: The subject line mentions why you are writing the letter.
    • Salutation: Next is the salutation. Ensure to begin your letter with a salutation or appropriate greeting. Considering this formal letter, “Mr., Mrs., Miss,” followed by the person’s last name, is good enough.


    After your header, the next thing is to start writing your letter. Your first paragraph should be your introduction.

    Ideally, you should include the following in your introduction paragraph:

    • Introduce yourself in detail: Start by introducing yourself. Then, tell the recipient your name and mention any details they need to identify you in one sentence.
    • State your complaint: Proceed to state and explain why you are writing the letter. Your complaint should be short and straight to the point. Usually, a line or two is enough to make your statement of complaint.


    Once you have completed the above, you move on to the next paragraph, giving details of the problem.

    • Describe your complaint: Give a brief description of the complaint you have
    • Mention the problems you’ve faced: In another paragraph, explain in detail how the service failure has affected you. What problems have you had to deal with since the issue began?
    • Conclude by stating the resolution of your problem: In the next paragraph, you have to explain what you expect from the recipient to solve the problem. For instance, you can ask them to make changes to solve the problem as soon as possible.  Or, in the alternative, you could request an apology, or you could ask for compensation in the form of damages.


    Finally, the conclusion is the paragraph where you end the letter. Ensure you do the following in conclusion:

    • Thank the recipient: Ensure to end your letter by thanking the reader for taking the time to attend to your complaint. You can also use your conclusion to highlight the crucial points you raised in the letter. This act will serve as a sort of quick recap to capture your reader’s attention.
    • Your signature: The next thing is to add a final salutation to the letter, followed by your signature and name. Most of the time, people use “Yours faithfully” as the closing for their formal complaint letters. If you are sending the letter by email, you might not need to sign it. However, if you are delivering by hand, consider appending your signature to add more authenticity to the letter.

    Formal Complaint Letter Template


    [Your name]

    [Your Address]

    [Name of the recipient]

    [Position in the company]

    [Name of Company]

    [Address of company]

    [Subject of the letter]

    Mr. [Name of the recipient]

    My name is [your name ] with customer Id[ Customer ID]. I wish to bring to your notice a report of a damaged product that happened on the [date]. On the said date, I bought one of your [name the thing, you bought], with [model number] from your branch in [location] for [price].

    To my surprise, the [product] wouldn’t work after [days ] use. I tried to check the problem, but I am not sure what it is. However, checking the warranty card, I can see the machine is not supposed to have any problems until five years of use. I immediately put a call through to your customer care, and I spoke with Mr. David, who promised to come around and fix the machine. Until now, I have yet to see anyone.

    I would appreciate it if you could look into the matter and have the machine repaired or replaced since the warranty period has not expired. Attached to this letter are copies of my receipts and guarantees and the check I used for the purchase.  

    While I await your response, I want to inform you that I might have to speak with the consumer protection agency if I do not get a favorable response in 2 weeks.


    [Your name]

    [Phone number]

    Sample Formal Complaint Letter

    Subject: Formal Complaint Regarding Defective Smart Home System

    Dear Mr. Smith,

    I am writing to formally express my dissatisfaction with the Smart Home System that I purchased from Bright Home Electronics. My name is Jane Doe, and I am a recent customer who made a purchase on November 15, 2023. My complaint is regarding the defective nature of the product.

    The issue involves the system’s failure to operate as advertised. Specifically, the central hub fails to connect with other smart devices in my home, rendering the entire system ineffective. This problem has caused significant inconvenience, as I invested in this system to enhance my home’s security and efficiency. The lack of functionality has left me without the promised security features, causing concern for my family’s safety.

    Given these circumstances, I expect a full replacement of the Smart Home System or a complete refund of the purchase price. A prompt resolution to this issue is necessary to restore my confidence in your products and services.

    I appreciate your attention to this matter and thank you for taking the time to address my concerns. I trust that Bright Home Electronics values its customers and will take appropriate steps to rectify this situation.

    Yours faithfully,

    Jane Doe

    Key takeaways

    This complaint letter serves as a useful sample for anyone looking to draft a similar letter due to several key features:

    1. The letter opens with a concise subject line that immediately indicates the content and purpose of the letter. It also properly addresses the recipient (Mr. Smith), which is crucial in formal communication.
    2. The letter begins with the writer introducing, mentioning their recent customer status, and providing the purchase date. This helps establish the context and relevance of the complaint.
    3. The writer clearly describes the problem, detailing how the Smart Home System is defective. The specific issue of the central hub failing to connect with other devices is mentioned, which helps in understanding exactly what went wrong.
    4. The writer explains how the malfunctioning system has caused inconvenience, highlighting concerns for her family’s safety and the inefficiency of the product. This personalizes the issue and underscores the urgency of the complaint.
    5. The writer specifies the desired outcomes – either a full replacement or a complete refund. This clarity is important in complaint letters, as it directs the recipient toward potential solutions.
    6. The letter maintains a formal and polite tone throughout. Despite expressing dissatisfaction, the language remains respectful and professional, which is more likely to elicit a positive response.
    7. The writer expresses trust in the company’s ability to value its customers and resolve the issue, indicating an expectation of a response or action.
    8. The letter ends with a formal sign-off, which is appropriate for the nature of the communication.

    Professional Writing Tips

    Here are some basic professional tips that are being enlisted by our professionals for you to craft an effective complaint letter:

    Be specific

    Details are essential when writing formal complaints. The reason is that the person you are writing to probably has lots of letters to attend to. It would be easier for the authorities to gain insight into your problems for fast solutions by explaining what happened in detail.

    Specific details you might want to add to your complaint include the date and time of the event and the names of those involved. Being specific also means adding all-important related documents to your letter. This includes receipts, checks, and other similar documents.       

    Be clear about what you want

    Mention what kind of results you expect from your complaint. While you state your expectations, ensure that you are fair and realistic. This could be a repair, exchange, store credit, or refund. Alternatively, you could ask the company to suggest how they intend to resolve the issue.

    If your letter is good enough, you might get the compensation you requested, or they might negotiate something better. If your complaint is about terrible procedures, ensure to tell the authorities how you want them to change things in your letter.

    Send the letter to the right person

    This might look obvious, but you need to know to whom to send your letter. Avoid sending your letter to general mailing addresses, like “customer service” or “to whom it may concern.” Instead, make sure you send your complaint letter via certified mail and request a return receipt. When you have that, keep a copy for future purposes. If you send the complaint by email, ensure a printed copy shows you sent the letter. 

    Use professional tone

    When writing your letter, always remember that it must be written formally. Therefore, ensure to use only a professional or business tone throughout the letter. When you use a professional tone in your letter, it commands mutual respect from the person reading it, and they will likely be compelled to address you favorably.   

    Avoid generalities

    While explaining your point, ensure that you go straight to the point. Most people tell stories that only give a general overview of the problem. Instead of doing that, go straight to the point and explain in detail how the issue has affected you.

    Be reasonable

    It is doubtful that the reader will rectify your problem immediately. But then, you expect that they will see it in good time. Therefore, ensure to tell them in the letter that you are giving them time to fix the issue. You might also let them know that you will take action if they fail to meet your demands.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What do you mean by a complaint letter?

    A complaint letter is a formal letter you write to authorities when you are not satisfied with their product or service. For instance, you can write to a person or company when you order a product that arrives defective, expressing your dissatisfaction with the product. As a result, the concerned department will take appropriate action in response to the complaint.

    How do I write a complaint letter for poor service?

    To write a complaint letter, first, you start with your address and date on the left side of the paper. Below that, you should add the recipient’s office address. Next is the letter’s subject; then, you proceed to your salutation. After that, the critical part is the body, where you state your complaints and explain them in detail. Finally, close your letter and sign.  

    What are the tips for writing a complaint letter?

    For your complaint letter to be effective, you must write it formally. It should express your grievances without ranting. In addition, the following are some tips you can follow:
    -Be specific
    -Be clear about your demands
    -Always use a professional tone.
    -Avoid generalities
    -Send your letter to the right person
    -Be reasonable 

    About This Article

    Melissa Horton
    Authored by:
    Legal Writing | M.A Marketing, B.A. Finance
    Melissa Horton is a highly skilled legal writer and co-owner of a leading financial planning firm in Washington, D.C. With over a decade of experience in the financial services and planning industry, Melissa's expertise lies in teaching clients how to maintain sustainable financial health. She holds a JD degree and possesses a deep understanding of legal principles and regulations, enabling her to deliver exceptional legal writing that is both informative and accessible. Melissa's passion for helping individuals navigate complex legal matters shines through in her work, making her a trusted authority in the field of legal writing.

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