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 services that it has bought from a business and if your complainant is a consumer, you'll need to alter your reply as well.
If your customer's complaint is that your services were performed but not good enough, you’ll need our separate suite of response templates for these scenarios.
And if you're the business wanting to complain about someone else's services, you should use our letter complaining that services you've ordered were never performed.
Check the terms of your contract first
The very first starting point for checking whether your customer is within their rights and for what you may be liable, is what's written in your contract terms.
You might set these out in a standard form terms and conditions document that you apply to all of your customers, or they may be contained in a more substantial sale of goods contract that you've negotiated with that particular customer.
You should always make sure that your customers have access to these terms and they understand the basis on which you agree to supply them.
(For more background on terms and conditions, take a look at our guides on what to include in your terms and conditions when you're selling to consumers, and what to include when you're selling to other businesses.
However you've chosen to set out your contract, read your terms through thoroughly, before you start to draft or communicate a reply to this complaint.
Striking the right tone
It can be annoying to spend time and effort choosing what you need, only to find that what you end up with is not at all what you wanted and if that's how your customer feels, they may well be inclined to vent their frustrations, on social media or in written correspondence.
However they choose to make their views known, if their tone becomes aggressive, inflammatory or otherwise inappropriate, do not allow yourself to match that tone of voice or language - it rarely achieves a constructive outcome.
Be concise, factual and unemotional in your reply. If your customer has reached out to you in a written format, you should do them the courtesy of replying in writing too.
The benefit of a written reply is also that it creates a helpful paper trail if the complaint escalates and you're unfortunate enough to find yourself subsequently facing legal proceedings.
If your customer publicly says untrue things about you during the course of venting their frustration, you may also wish to consider combining the templates in this suite of correspondence with those in our suite of defamation (untrue statements).
Our guide to defamation may also be a helpful read in those circumstances.
For a quick and friendly expert view on your position and your prospects of success, as well as how best to draft this letter, 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 - you've had a complaint, let's write a good reply
You should use this letter of response at the start of any correspondence with a business customer who has complained that services they ordered from you have not been performed.
You'll see that our template provides you with several possible drafting options explaining the reasons for the non-performance of the services to date:
- non-performance has been caused by unforeseen events outside of your control
- there was no contractually binding date for performance of the services, and the services will be performed shortly
- an alternative reason - which might be as simple as an admission of fault and an apology
...though see the note of caution in the template about how you approach admissions of responsibility as you are handing the right to your customer to claim reasonable compensation from you, so make sure you're prepared for that.
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