Why send a complaint letter?
There are times where a trader may not be aware of the problem and an initial contact is all that is needed in order to sort everything out.
If, however, the trader does not respond to you - or their response is not what you where looking for - we would advise sending a letter, preferably with proof of delivery. You should keep a copy of this letter for your records. The letter should be done in a clear, polite and positive manner.
The aim of this part of the letter is to provide all the background information of the situation, showing the trader why they are being contacted. You will need to provide some relevant information:
- What were the goods purchased?
- When were the goods purchased?
- Where were the goods purchased?
- How were the goods paid for?
If you have been provided with a reference number, this needs to be included too. It would be advisable to enclose copies of any receipts or invoices (never send the originals).
Now we need to make it clear to the trader what has gone wrong - what the problem is. This needs to be clear and informative - it may be easier to do it in a bullet point style, listing the problems. The following information needs to be included:
- Description of the problem
- When did the goods go wrong?
- How did the goods go wrong?
If you have been provided with proof of the problem, for example an independent report, it would be advisable to enclose a copy in your letter.
What do you want?
This part of the letter allows you to tell the trader what it is you want or need to resolve the problem you have experienced. You need to be reasonable in your request and to be able to justify why you are asking for it. It is important to realise the limits of the situation and the law.
If you are aware of your legal position it would be advisable to include this information to make the trader aware of their legal responsibility.
Give a deadline to respond
To finish the letter off, you need to provide the trader with a deadline to respond to you. This deadline needs to be realistic and reasonable, taking into account where you are sending the letter to, weekends, and bank/public holidays. Often a reasonable time could be 14 days, but it does depend on the situation.
You may find it useful to use our template letters (on the right) to send your complaint to the trader you are having problems with. Please note that our selection of template letters will not cover every type of problem or may not suit your specific situation, they are intended for guidance purposes. If you require more detailed advice and guidance please contact us on 01268 886690.
Please be aware that these template letters are in Word format, if for any reason these do not work on your system please contact us for an alternative form of the template. Thank you.
The UK European Consumer Centre has available a free newsletter, “UK ECC – your update”. The aim of the newsletter is to provide you, the consumer, with a flavour of what the UK ECC does, provide examples of cases we have been working on and, more importantly, provide you with the best advice on cross-border shopping.