Legal Ease, June 7

Complaint letters


Life doesn’t always work the way it should. Sometimes you order something and when it arrives it’s defective, or it performs badly.

In theory you can sue in court, but even if you go to small claims court, a lawsuit is expensive and time-consuming.

Trying to avoid court is a good idea. That said, ignoring the problem is not a good solution either.

The best approach is to start by writing a complaint letter. Be reasonable, but be fair to yourself. Ask for what is fair and proper.

As a rule, a complaint letter should contain the following:

• Key dates, such as when you purchased the goods or services and when the problem occurred.

• Identify what action you’ve already taken to fix the problem and what you will do if you cannot resolve the problem.

• Ask for a response within a reasonable time.

• State what you want to have happen.

• Attach a copy of any supporting relevant documentation such as a receipt or invoice.

A typical complaint letter might say:

“Dear [Contact Person]:

This letter is to follow up on our conversation of [date] about a problem I am having with the [name of product or service performed] that I [bought, leased, rented or had repaired] at your [name of location] location on [date].

I am dissatisfied with your [service or product] because [describe problem].

I have already attempted to resolve this problem by [describe attempts and actions taken]. I have enclosed copies of my records. [Include copies of receipts, cancelled cheques, contracts, and other relevant documents]

Unfortunately, the problem remains unresolved. I am hereby requesting that you: [List specific actions you want, such as refund, exchange or repair the item.]

Thank you for your anticipated assistance in resolving my problem. Please contact me at [telephone number and/or email address] if you have any questions.

I look forward to hearing from you within five days, failing which I will take such further action as I see fit.

[Your name]”

Most times, this sort of letter resolves the problem and means there is no need to take other steps.

James Morton is a lawyer practising in Nunavut with offices in Iqaluit. The comments here are intended as general legal information and not as specific legal advice.

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