This suite of templates covers sales of goods between two businesses. They're not appropriate for use by a consumer who wishes to complain about goods that it has bought from a business.
If you want to complain about goods not having been delivered at all, or delivered goods turning out to be damaged, defective or not what you requested, you’ll need our separate suite of templates for these scenarios.
And if you're the business being complained about, you should refer to our guide to handling complaints that you've supplied goods too late.
These templates all assume that you have received the goods, that you will still retain the goods in spite of the late delivery, and that your intention with these letters is to point out the trouble caused to your business and to request compensation for any costs that you’ve directly incurred as a result.
Check the terms of your contract first
The very first starting point for checking your rights and being able to enforce them, is what's written in the contract that you have with the supplier.
These terms might be set out in the supplier's terms and conditions (which you may or may not have been able to negotiate ahead of buying the goods), or they may be contained in a more substantial sale of goods contract that you've negotiated for your business.
Terms and conditions can be displayed on the walls in a business operating out of a premises, on their website, in a brochure, on packaging, even on the back of an order form, invoice or receipt.
The supplier should not obscure them from you.
However the terms are presented, read them through thoroughly before you start to draft or communicate anything.
Striking the right tone
It can be intensely annoying to spend time and effort choosing what you need, only to find that you don’t get the outcome that you wanted. But venting your frustrations, on social media or in written correspondence, rarely gets the optimum outcome.
Be concise, factual and unemotional in any communications that you choose to send or to publish.
It can help to reach out via customer service channels that some suppliers run via social media, customer call-lines and website live chat features can also help resolve well-presented complaints rapidly. You may find you don't need to send anything as formal as the template letters in this suite.
But if late delivery of the goods has caused you to incur unexpected costs, to lose business or to otherwise suffer harm that is directly connected to the delay, and if you're ready to get going with a more formal approach, let's take a look at how you can use the templates that Farillio and Wilkes have created for you.
For a quick and friendly expert view on your position and your prospects of success at any stage, as well as how best to draft any of the letters in this series, simply select our speak to a lawyer feature and we’ll rapidly match you with the right expert to get you the help you need.
Template Letter 1 - those goods are late. Let's send that complaint letter
This is the first letter in our suite of communications covering the situation where you’re a business customer and goods which you have contracted to receive have been delivered too late for you to fulfil your originally intended business objectives, but you are planning to keep these goods.
You might, for example, find yourself in this position where your supplier was supposed to provide you with essential components that you needed to integrate into your own products to fulfil an order from your own customers, or where you have ordered goods in time for an event that has now passed.
Delivery date for the goods
If no delivery date was set for the goods to arrive, then there is still an implied legal requirement that the supplier will deliver within ‘a reasonable time’.
What constitutes ‘a reasonable time’ will be very fact dependent, for example, customised or bespoke-created goods will naturally imply a longer delivery lead time than goods that are mass-manufactured, generally in advance and warehoused somewhere. Fragile or ‘chemically volatile’ goods might necessitate greater care in delivery and shipment logistics and therefore take longer to reach a customer too. Goods being imported can likewise be expected to take longer to reach their intended destination. And of course, if the goods are contingent on you providing a specification, which was late too, then the delay in delivery may not be unreasonable in the circumstances.
The loss/costs you incurred because the goods were late
You'll see the template prompts you to provide the details of costs that you would not have incurred if the goods had been delivered on time. These are the costs that you're claiming compensation for in the letter.
These costs must be reasonable and not irresponsibly/frivolously incurred and might include the cost of a lost sale/contract (because you could not fulfil an order from your own customer(s) in turn, the costs of having to acquire replacement goods at the last moment, any additional transport or storage costs, etc.
If you have them, it's sensible to attach invoices/receipts relating to the extra costs you’ve unnecessarily incurred.
As you're asking for reimbursement, if your supplier accepts that they are at fault at this stage, they will likely request evidence that you have actually had to spend the amount that you describe. Attaching that evidence here helps to speed up the process of proof and can help you to resolve the issue and receive the compensation faster.
How long should you give the supplier to reply?
5-7 days is a reasonable period.
Template Letter 2 - the supplier's rejected your complaint. It's time to reassert your rights
This is the second letter in our suite of communications where goods you ordered have been delivered too late for you to fulfil your originally intended business objectives, but are you are intending to keep the goods.
This template letter assumes that you have already sent the first complaint letter in this particular series and that you have received a reply from your supplier disputing that they are at fault over the late delivery.
What might legitimate grounds for the late delivery include?
Your position might not be reasonable / legitimate if the supplier was unable to deliver the goods due to reasons caused by you / contributed to by you.
This might be the case, for example, if you were late in providing a specification for the goods, or delivery was attempted but obstructed by the delivery location inaccessible to the supplier/their transport provider.
You might also not be able to challenge late delivery where:
an event beyond anyone’s control prevented an on time delivery, e.g. an earthquake, act of terror, extreme weather conditions, etc.
a clause within the supplier’s contract terms absolves them of liability to you where such unforeseeable events occur.
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