Letters that get results

Making a complaint requires time, effort and often a bit of patience.
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  • Updated:10 May 2005

01.Writing works

typing on a laptop

*On 1 January 2011, a new national Australian Consumer Law regime came into effect. Please see our article or go to http://www.accc.gov.au/consumerrights for information on these changes.

Sometimes you can simply pick up the phone and resolve the issue fairly quickly. But on other occasions you may have to write a letter outlining your concerns before the organisation takes you seriously.

That’s where the CHOICE Book Put It In Writing can help. Written by Margaret White, it offers tips on making a complaint and writing letters that get results.

It also presents 120 well-considered, cool and commanding letters to retailers, car dealers, builders, government agencies, insurance companies, lenders and many more. There’s even practical advice about what rights you have in those situations, and a list of useful contacts.

Some tips

So when you need to complain, consider these tips from Put It In Writing:

  • Know your rights before you complain and show it in your letter.
  • Work out what you want (say a refund, compensation or apology) before you complain.
  • Complain to the person you have the problem with but, if they don’t have the authority to handle the matter, go to the manager or person in charge.
  • Keep the letter simple, short and straightforward, and write it in clear and easy-to-read language.
  • Let the person you’re writing to know you understand their point of view, too.
  • Get straight to the point in the first paragraph and carefully plan what you want to say in the rest of the letter.
  • Enclose copies (not originals) of relevant documents, such as bills, quotes, receipts and invoices.
  • If you’re sending a message by fax or email, present the information as carefully as you would in a letter.

To see some sample letters from Put It In Writing, click here.

You can buy Put it in Writing, 3rd edition, by Margaret White, from the CHOICE Online Shop.

Please note: this information was current as of May 2005 but is still a useful guide to today's market.



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