Utility companies (e.g. gas companies, electric companies, water companies, etc.) offer essential services that people rarely notice when things are going well, however, people will definitely complain when there are problems with these services. Utility companies are similar to government bureaucracy and it is often shocking how something in their service to customers is messed up but they have no ability to correct it. If you have been overcharged/ charged a wrong payment plan or been mistreated by a utility company, whether it is in relation to water, electricity, gas, or telecommunications, you need to write an effective complaint letter to the utility company.
The importance of a letter of complaint should not be understated. It serves as a record that a complaint has been lodged, helps to safeguard any legal rights the utility customer may have in this situation, and let the company know that you are taking the complaint seriously (instead of just making an informal complaint). The most effective complaint letter should be based on facts and not emotions. Here are some tips on how to write one:
1. Identify the Recipient
Try and identify a senior person in the relevant department of the provider of the utility service to write to. Don't send your letter to the anonymous customer service or complaint department. You can try and google the company’s website or the annual report to identify the correct name.
Describe the service and the problem directly and concisely (e.g. "Your company has overcharged me by $XXX in (Month)" instead of "There is a problem with my utility bills/ monthly payments"). Include your customer and account number, and the address of the service. If you are following up on a conversation, be sure to say who you have spoken to and confirm the details of what you discussed.
Be clear that you are seeking a resolution, and specify a reasonable response and timeframe you would like the company to do. You can also leave it open for the company to compensate you by stating that "a meaningful and substantial gesture of goodwill" would be appreciated.
You may be angry, but don't write an angry letter. Only state the facts and don't be hostile, angry, sarcastic, or threatening. The person reading your letter may not be responsible for the problem, and politeness may create more incentive for the person to help to resolve it. If you allow your recipients to have one-to-one conversations and exchanges, you are more likely to receive a favourable response.
Include copies of related documents such as invoices and correspondence but keep them separate from your main letter. You can also send them a conversation record and email about the issue with customer service. Keep your originals, in case your letter is lost during the mailing process.
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