My Very First Consumer Complaint

by Chris Bjorklund

I will always remember the first time I wrote a consumer complaint letter. It was an empowering experience.

During college, I was making Toll House chocolate chip cookies with an electric portable hand mixer. While mixing all that butter and flour, which strained the motor, the appliance started smoking and conked out. I thought that the mixer should be strong enough to handle something as simple as chocolate cookie batter.

Disgusted, I sat down and wrote a complaint letter to the manufacturer. I explained what I had done, what I expected from the product, and expressed by frustration and disappointment. The letter ended with my request for a replacement unit, so that I could continue to “impress my friends with my fantastic cookie-baking skills.” How could any college student live without freshly baked cookies?

About 2 weeks later, the new portable mixer arrived with an apology — and a word of caution. The manufacturer warned that these mixers weren’t designed for heavy batters (the instructions may have said that, I don’t remember), but in the interest of customer satisfaction, they were happy to replace the product.

I have written many complaint letters since this experience, using the same basic complaint techniques. When you’re dissatisfied, put your complaint in writing with supporting documentation, send it to someone with authority, and outline what you want. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results you get – most of the time.