How to complain effectively

There’s an article making the professor rounds about communicating with professors (not making the student rounds, but that’s another story). That’s not of use to most of you, but it does bring up the point that there are ways to complain about things that are likely to work better. Here are some tips:

Make sure your complaint is justified – You’re unhappy. But is it reasonable? If you expect a chocolate on your pillow with the turndown service at the Econolodge, your complaint may not do what you want. Generally, if you can point to exactly where a business promised a type of product or service that was not delivered, that’s going to be a strong complaint. 

Put it on paper – It’s very easy to fire off an e-mail. It’s also very easy to ignore one. The same with a phone call…it’s maybe a little harder to find a phone number that talks to a human, but when you do, it’s easy for the human to ignore you. Send a paper letter.

Send it to the right person – Do. Not. Fill in the generic feedback form on a website. And while you are at it, don’t send a message to This is like asking to be handled by a professional, well, handler. Their job? To make you go away. Instead, use your search skills to find the executive in charge of the area where you are having a problem. Send your missive directly to them.

Be clear – 

  • State the situation
  • State the problem
  • Explain why it is problem
  • State what a satisfactory solution would be

Learn more:

Here’s more detail on finding out how to contact executives from The Consumerist. 



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