Beat Bureaucracy

Write an effective letter of complaint to a bureaucracy

Letters should have three sections:

1. A brief summary of the complaint: what the bureaucracy did and the damage that resulted

2. A detailed, accurate list of the facts and sequence of events

3. A brief request for action--what you want the bureaucracy to do to repair the damage

 

Sample

To: Ms. Ann Marie Mocha-Latte, Manager, Customer Service, Percolator Courier, New York

From: Andrew Lacourt

Manager of Training HarborServices                                                                                                                                                                             33 Wolestone Lane
San Francisco, California 94101

Re: Customer complaint, shipping number RT70779

Summary of the complaint

Your company mishandled a delivery to me on February 14th. As a result of poor judgment by your driver and the indifference to customer service of Ms. J. Stonewall, your office manager in San Francisco, the professionalism and effectiveness of a training session I gave to 28 of my colleagues at HarborServices suffered significantly.

Facts and sequence of events

Your policy is to guarantee delivery within four working days. I allowed six working days for you to ship my teaching materials from New York to San Francisco. When the material did not arrive on Wednesday February 12th as promised, I called your Tracking Line on Thursday and was assured that the material would arrive the following morning.

On Friday February 14th at noon I still had not received the material, so I called your San Francisco office and was told that the driver did not deliver the package because, when he came to my house, my company's name was not written on the house. I said that of course the company's name was not on my house and that I often work at home like hundreds of thousands of other Americans.

I then asked to speak to the office manager, Ms Stonewall. She told me that nothing could be done about the situation that day, and because the next day was a Saturday, the only way I could get my package was to come to Percolator's airport office after 9 am and pick it up. I explained that I had to begin teaching at 8:30 am.

I then proposed a compromise. By coincidence I was teaching my course at an airport hotel just 10 minutes' drive from the Percolator office. I proposed that she arrange for the materials to be dropped off at the hotel either late Friday or Saturday morning before 8:30. She refused.

As a result I was forced to teach the morning session with makeshift materials that were not up to the professional standards expected by our company. The comments on a number of the evaluation forms for the training session reflect the substandard materials and their effect on the learning that morning. I have attached them.

Request for action

I am asking your company to write a letter to my supervisor, Ms Karen Hunter, verifying that Percolator's errors created this situation; and to compensate my company with a mininum of $500 in free courier service.

 

Sincerely,

Andrew Lacourt

cc Karen Hunter