A persuasive letter sent by a customer to a business or agency to identify a problem with a product or service. Also known as a letter of complaint.
Typically, a claim letter opens (and sometimes closes) with a request for adjustment, such as a refund, replacement, or payment for damages. A reply to a claim letter is called an adjustment letter.
- Business Writing
- Compose a Letter of Complaint (includes a sample letter)
- How Not to Write a Letter of Complaint (includes a sample letter)
Observations and Methods:
- Main Elements of a Claim Letter
"Your claim letter should generally contain the following four elements:
(i) A clear explanation of what has gone wrong. Give full information for quick identification of the defective product or faulty service. In the case of a product, details such as the exact date of purchase and arrival, the amount paid, order number, colour, size, model number, make, etc. are helpful in making a re-check by the supplier easier.To secure a prompt and satisfactory response a claim letter is usually written to the head of the unit or the department responsible for the mistake."
(ii) A statement of the inconvenience caused or the loss suffered as a result of the mistake or defect.
(iii) An appeal to the reader's sense of fair play, honesty, reputation or professional pride with a view to motivating him to take necessary action promptly to rectify the situation.
(iv) A statement of what adjustment you would consider fair.
(R.C. Sharma and Krishna Mohan, Business Correspondence and Report Writing, 3rd ed. Tata McGraw-Hill, 2002)
- "Make your claim accurately and tactfully. Assume in your letter that your claim will be granted and that the other firm will attempt to make a satisfactory adjustment. Avoid threats, accusations, or veiled hints about what you will do if the matter isn't solved promptly.
"If possible, address your claim to a specific person in the company . . .."
(L. Sue Baugh, Maridell Fryar, and David A. Thomas, How to Write First-Class Business Correspondence. McGraw-Hill, 1995)
- A Good Complaint Is Like a Well-Made Sandwich
"Set aside your blind rage at the ineffectual salesclerk and delayed delivery man and learn to gripe constructively. Your request will be more appetizing, says [psychologist Guy] Winch, if you build a 'complaint sandwich.'
"The first slice of bread is the 'ear opener'--words that keep your target from feeling attacked. We're wired to get defensive when someone complains, but studies have found that starting with a positive point makes the listener more receptive to criticism.
"Next get to the meat--the specific problem you're having and the solution you're hoping for. Top off the sandwich with a grateful statement that shows you're a reasonable person who's deserving of help--and likely to stay a loyal customer if satisfied."
(Ismat Sarah Mangla, "Secrets to Super Customer Service." Money, December 2011)
- Characteristics of a Well-Written Claim Letter (1922)
"Anybody can find fault, but few persons can make a claim in clear, unmistakable language even when they have the best of reasons for doing so. A bungling claim letter is likely to be given little consideration. A well written claim letter
Should state precisely what is wrong(Wallace Edgar Bartholomew and Floyd Hurlbut, The Business Man's English: Spoken and Written. Macmillan, 1922)
Should make tracing easy by referring to definite dates, invoice numbers, etc.
Should state what remedy, or adjustment, is desired
Should be addressed to the person, or company, responsible for the damage or omission"