Learn about different ways of complaining plus useful tips on how to complain effectively!

Business Magazine - Complaining


Do the Preparation task first. Then read the Text. Next go to each Task and do the activity.

The different ways of complaining are:

  • Face to face
  • By phone
  • By email
  • By letter

Let’s first take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each before concluding which is the most effective.

Picture this scenario: you have bought a faulty item from a shop and you take it back to complain. You go directly to the shop assistant and tell them your problem. They say they cannot help you, which makes you angrier, to the point perhaps where you start insulting the poor shop assistant. RESULT: This will do you no favours, like getting any compensation, or even a refund. If you go directly to the first person you see within the organisation you are complaining about, you may be wasting your time as they may be powerless to take any action or provide you with a solution. So the important lesson to be learnt is to make sure firstly that you are speaking to the relevant person, the one who has the authority to make decisions.

Perhaps you don’t have time to actually go and see the relevant authority in person so you decide to make a phone call. The problem with complaining by phone is that you may be passed around from department to department, making you more and more angry until you finally give up. Either that or the phone is hung up on you, which leaves you fuming even more. Furthermore, any contact can be denied.

The same applies to emails too, which can additionally be deleted, or even manipulated.

This leaves us with the traditional letter. When we first make a complaint the usual response is a request to write a letter:  “Can you put that down in writing please?”

The advantages of writing a letter of complaint are that:

  • Written records are still very important, e.g. in legal matters as opposed to a fax or email.
  • You have complete control over what is being said, and you can present evidence.
  • You can be prepared, and plan your letter carefully.
  • You are able to keep copies of anything sent in writing.
  • You have time to reflect and/or consult as opposed to complaining on the spot.

So here are some useful points to consider when writing your letter:

  • State what went wrong exactly. You need to provide concrete evidence, with documentation, for example a receipt, where possible. Make sure you keep copies of all correspondence, including relevant documentation. You also need to state where, when, who was involved, what was said or done. Photographic or video evidence boosts your case.
  • What do you expect from your complaint?  If you are complaining about a situation at work, focus on taking action to improve situations rather than spending your time complaining.
  • State a time limit for when you expect a reply.
  • Be assertive, and stay calm.
  • Make sure you address the complaint to the relevant person.

This will be more likely to ensure that you will achieve a satisfactory outcome from your complaint. Good luck!



The Area Manager,
National Bank of Pakistan,
Fatima Jinnah Road Branch,



With reference to the captioned subject, it is to inform that I had purchased an insurance policy on 24.06.2016 from the desk of Banc assurance established at our Branch. An amount of Rs.57,320/- was debited to my Salary account # 3054581280 the same day.

However, it is surprising to notify that I have received neither the policy papers nor any receipt from the State Life Insurance Company (SLIC) Ltd. after a lapse of 7 weeks. It is pertinent to mention that the sales agent of SLIC had committed providence of original policy within a time frame of 2 to 6 weeks.

You are therefore requested to kindly take up the matter with the concerned authorities to issue my policy papers as soon as possible. Meanwhile, any provisional receipt may kindly be issued to ensure that the policy has been enforced.

Yours faithfully,
Please check the write up and give ur feedback

Hello Imran Hussain,

That's a great letter of complaint! I'm afraid, however, that we don't provide the service of providing feedback on texts such as this one. If there's part of a specific sentence that you want to ask us about, you are welcome to, but I'm afraid that's about as much as we can do – we are simply too small a team with too much other work to be able to do otherwise.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

In my school teachers disagree a lot on methods: I'm the teacher in Primary 6B. My colleague is in 6A. My colleague argues with me that she teaches her pupils the rules of english language (as in grammar). Her pupils learn that the words that they speak or write to sb should have meaning that are the same or nearly the same to those words as used to speak or write to them when they first learnt them. I teach my pupils the principles of english language (as in all other schl subjects). They learn that the words that they speak or write to sb should have meaning that are absolutely intended by them. Are we teaching the same thing to both classes?. If no, in what content of the language did we differ?.

Hello Otuechere Alexis Chukwudi,

This is a question about teaching and teaching approaches which is not really part of our scope here on LearnEnglish. We aim to provide help to learners of English, not teachers. However, we do have a sister-site which is aimed at teachers, and I think that would be a better place for your question. You can find that site here: Teaching English.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Reading through and after completing the task on that letter of complaint made by Fred to Mr Best, I note with some dose of patience that there was minimal enjoyment of the use of the language to communicate feelings to others. Words that could've helped to give more grammatical expression to the letter were impatiently skipped, perhaps, to give the impression that though the writer wrote in the english language, the persons involved were the only important things in the relationship.

Nice exercise! A good way to warm up.

The task is easy to make if one can understand the whole text.