Imagine your disappointment if an item you purchased does not work or a service you used was not up to the standard you expected. Naturally, you may want to complain and have the company to rectify the problem. Writing an effective letter of complaint is key to a satisfactory result and an important skill to teach key stage 2 (KS2) students. Although there is no definitive way to write a complaint, there are some basic points and information that you should include in your lesson.
Introduce the lesson by asking the students for their ideas of what they could do if they had a problem with a product or service. Ask them how they would complain and what they would include in any correspondence.
Describe a hypothetical situation relating to a problem with a small household appliance. Tell the class about the problem and discuss what to include in a letter of complaint.
Tell the students to write their contact details, including e-mail or telephone number, at the top of the letter. Explain that this will ensure that the company or person can respond to their complaint. Add the date under the details.
Instruct them to write the company's address details under the date. Ensure they address the letter to a named person, if possible, or explain that they should address it to a job title such as "Customer Service Manager" or "Manager," if they do not know the name.
Add a salutation. Use the person's name or "Dear Sir" if unknown.
Direct the students to write a heading for the complaint. Make sure they include reference or account numbers, if appropriate. Otherwise, name the product about which they are complaining, such as "Automatic Electric Kettle" or "White Toaster."
Ask the students to outline which product or service their complaint is about and include when and where they purchased the item or used the service. Show them a receipt and help them identify shop and date details from the receipt.
Tell the students to briefly describe the problem. Keep this concise and factual. Make sure to include serial numbers, if appropriate. Show them where to find a serial number on several small products if possible. Tell them to send copies of receipts or contracts, then list them in this section.
Ask the students for ideas about what would be a satisfactory outcome. Instruct them to state what they would like the company to do to rectify the problem. Ensure they are realistic and give a reasonable time frame in which to expect a reply.
Discuss what other steps the students could take if the company fails to offer a satisfactory response. Tell them to outline these steps in the letter. Be sure to discuss further legal action or a complaint to a relevant trade authority.
Tell them to restate how the company can contact them.
End the letter with "Yours sincerely," if they know the name of the person, or "Yours faithfully," if it was addressed as "Dear Sir." Have them print their name at the foot of the complaint and add their signature.
Introduce a second item and describe the problem. Working in small groups, encourage the students to write a further letter of complaint. Allow time for group discussion and feedback.