Writing Prompt: Letters of Complaint and Commendation

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This week’s assignment is a practical kind of writing. All of us from time to time have experiences with companies or organizations that are surprisingly satisfying or dreadfully disappointing. Your task is to write two formal letters. One will be a complaint and the other a commendation. The corporations you write to may be real or imaginary.

Letter of Complaint

You can complain about a faulty product you have purchased or poor service you have received. If you have had an actual bad experience and would like to get out your frustration in this assignment, go right ahead. Or you can be creative and invent something to complain about. You may even choose to complain about a nonsense product  like  a laser gun, time travel device, or automated homework completing robot. You may address your letter to a real company or just make one up.

Letter of Commendation

In reality, letters of commendation are infrequently written, but they always appreciated by business owners and employees. If you’ve been well-served or have been particularly pleased with a product, write a letter expressing your appreciation for a job well done. You can be creative on this one as well. Feel free to discuss the fictional beyond-the-call-of-duty efforts an employee took to serve you, or the excellence of an imaginary product you purchased. Just be sure you sound serious and believable.

Tip: Be sure to include detail in your letters. Describe your experience with employees or with the product. Don’t be general. Good writing is good writing, even in very practical writing. The same rules apply: showing is always better than telling, concrete detail is better than abstract generalities. If you are complaining, be sure to ask for some kind of action on the part of the company (e.g., money back, replacement, apology, etc.)

Format

Both letters should follow formal business format.  There are several acceptable models for business letters, click here if you’d like some help with formatting.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. CFloyd
    CFloyd01-18-2012

    I recently felt compelled to write to Books-a-Million corporate based upon my local manager’s bias and judgement concerning my purchases with my educator discount card. This is truly where your writing could make or break you. I agree that we should all practice for such moments as these. This woman belittled my usaged of plush toy movie figures as “classroom” usefull, and in her tone accused me of lying or at least taking advantage. I did not relish the thought of her in a meeting with BAM corporate stating: Homeschoolers take advantage of the discount card. I stated emphatically: I can make a learning experience out of anything in that store save the coffee – and that, unashamedly, is all for me.

    Another experience I had was in Guam at a very posh bookstore that gave me a key chained to a flipflop – a USED flipflop!! – for the bathroom! I came back and requested some form in which I may state a complaint. They handed me some fill-in document with a small square for written comments. This is where succinct and to the point had to make their money!

    I also have not written many commendations, but I am sure to say something in the moment. We called out the shift manager at a local Ci Ci’s to compliment him on his excellent service and staff. He gave us an 800 number to call in so I did that for him as well.

    However, what I did not do with my first mentioned complaint was ensure it was in a formal business format. But I received a favorable response from corporate BAM anyway. I will do that next time.

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