Angry business letters are written by disgruntled consumers or employees seeking some type of change or financial remuneration. The bulk of an angry letter, commonly called a complaint letter, involves reviewing the facts and events leading to discontent. If the letter writer wants to truly engage the company in a constructive conversation, the letter must remain professional throughout.
Use Factual Statements
Put facts in the letter, not assumptions or opinions. State what created frustration, anger or distress. Use facts that outline the details of what occurred in a chronological order. While stating the facts, don't impart opinions or emotions. The letter is more professional, and therefore more effective, with emotions left out as much as possible.
For example, "There is a charge on my airline bill for three checked bags. My ticket notes only one checked bag." These statements are factual because they are provable with the documentation of the bill and ticket.
Once the facts are stated, explain why this evoked anger and frustration. Refrain from name calling, profanity and accusatory statements. For example, "You are stealing my money with these illegal charges," only heightens the issue. Proving theft is much harder than asking a company to accept responsibility for a mistake and automatically puts the company on defense.
Clear and Concise
Business owners, managers and customer service departments don't have time to read a novel. Even though it is important to make sure relevant facts are conveyed, keeping things clear and concise keeps the reader engaged. Think of the complaint letter as a summary of a science experiment; there is a lot of information that goes into the experiment that is succinctly summarized with a drawn conclusion at the end. A complaint letter does the same to summarize the facts and state the concluded emotional distress.
An example of how to state your anger is, "I'm sure you can appreciate the frustration my family experienced when we realized what was happening." This approach strives for an empathetic response rather than a defensive one.
Request for Action
Few people write a letter merely to vent; action and resolution are usually the end goals. For example, an employee having a problem with derogatory comments from a co-worker most likely wants to see changes to company policy and disciplinary protocol. An example of a consumer letter might be when a hotel guest is mistakenly charged for various amenities; a quick refund is the intended result.
These desires and the request for action are clearly stated at the end of the main body just before the closing. Some letters also state desired resolutions at the beginning of the letter and then repeat them at the end. Keep action requests polite and succinct like the rest of the letter. Make the desired resolution clear so the reader understands the expectations – this doesn't guarantee anything, but it starts the conversation.
For example, "Based on the facts noted above, please provide a full refund of all incorrect charges within the next two business days." The reader knows what you want.
Polite Closing and Contact Information
Close the letter by thanking the reader for taking the time to review everything and understand the emotions involved. Use a standard closing such as "Thank you," or "Regards," followed by your printed name and contact information. Proofread the letter for spelling and grammar errors, and take an honest look at the tone to ensure it remains professional.
Note any enclosures with the letter by typing "Enclosures," under the contact information separating the two blocks by a line space. Pertinent enclosures include receipts, correspondence, pictures or any other printed evidence to support your case.
- Allow an angry business letter to sit for a day or two before you send it if possible. Reading over the letter and closing with a cool head will help you ensure the letter conveys the necessary information without seeming unprofessional or nasty.
With more than 15 years of professional writing experience, Kimberlee finds it fun to take technical mumbo-jumbo and make it fun! Her first career was in financial services and insurance.