If you’d rather seethe quietly than make a complaint when something’s gone wrong, you’re not alone. But staying quiet could cost you money. Follow these 10 steps to learn how to make a complaint successfully.

According to free complaints service Resolver, common reasons people give for not complaining include: Not thinking they could win, worrying it could take too long, and being put off by the idea that the process might be too complicated.


While some businesses’ complaints services may not be up to scratch, Resolver says more and more are realising the value of keeping their customers happy – and, in turn, keeping them coming back.

10 steps to make a complaint

Resolver founder, James Walker, says: “Let’s dispel a few myths. It’s dead easy to make a complaint – and it doesn’t have to take long at all. You can get around dealing with the dreaded call centres or automated help systems by using Resolver. But you can also make a complaint in your own right – and in your own words.”

Here are his top tips…

1. Take a deep breath

Bad service, being ripped-off and bureaucracy can make us see red. So it’s vital to take a moment to calm down before making a complaint.

Grab a drink, gather your thoughts and channel that anger. When we’re upset, we don’t always express ourselves clearly – or worse, we burn out after a rant then feel bad and back down.

How to make a complaint
Take a moment before making that call (Thinkstock/PA)

2. Keep it simple

Focus on the key issues. Start with what you wanted or were expecting, explain what went wrong, and finish with what you want to sort out the complaint.

3. Be polite

Even customer service experts trying to be fair can be swayed by rudeness. That can extend to formatting in a complaints letter or emails, like overusing capital letters, making letters bold and underlining text (or worst of all, all three!).

4. Bullet points help you focus

Making complaint writing a letter

Even if you hate writing, it can be tempting to start drafting the complaint version of War And Peace when you get going.

Why not try writing out bullet points? It keeps your complaint straightforward and you’re more likely to remember key information.

5. Get help

Not everyone feels comfortable putting their thoughts into writing, and for various reasons, it can be good to get some support. Organisations have a range of ways they can help you make a complaint. Free help from Citizens Advice and other charities can help you get started.

6. It’s all about communication

Writing an email of complaint

Resolver works with over 32,000 businesses to help them understand what their customers are telling them. The are also a few steps you can take to help solve communication problems with a business.

Something as simple as writing ‘complaint’ on an email, message or letter makes it unarguably clear what the deal is. Asking for a straightforward explanation of what the business is going to do to sort things out is another tactic that can help.

7. Photograph your documents

One of the leading reasons people give up on complaints is admin. Often, businesses will ask you to send in documents to support your case.

Avoid sending originals. Photograph your documents and attach them to a complaint using a smartphone. If a hard copy is required, take a photocopy so you can still keep hold of a physical document, and file it somewhere safe.

8. Do your research

Close up image of a parking ticket on a car windscreen

If you’ve got a parking ticket you want to challenge, then it makes sense to snap a few photographs to back up your case. The same goes for many complaints.

If you can gather evidence, even links online to other people who’ve had the same problem with a product or service, it can help.

9. Tell it from the heart

It’s often easy for businesses to miss the personal aspect of problems. So take a moment to explain the impact an error has had on you.

You don’t need to lay it on thick – but if a situation has caused you some distress, it’s important that the business understands why.

10. Don’t give up

And finally, if you don’t get the answer you want at first, ask about escalating your complaint. Many industries have ombudsmen or dispute resolution schemes you can take your complaint to for free.

It shouldn’t take long at all to make a complaint – and you can make a complaint in just a few minutes if you plan a little in advance. Get started today.

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