How To Write A Formal Letter Of Complaint

I recently moved in to a new flat, which is lovely thank you for asking.  The people seem, well not friendly because this is the south of England, but pleasant enough.  Unfortunately, at the last residents meeting it turned out that a vanishingly small number of residents have taken issue with parking spaces not being properly used by residents, or being used by non-residents.  As a result the powers that be have introduced a permit and ticketing scheme.

Having some past experience with such schemes I know that they’re usually a terrible idea, and I felt the need to express my misgivings.  Accordingly, I wrote the following letter of complaint (my first) to the management company.

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24 October 2013

Dear Sir or Madam

Parking Permits 

Some time ago I was dismayed to receive the minutes of the last residents meeting.  I was unable to attend the meeting myself, being on a plane at the time and all, but as I read the minutes my heart sank.  Shirley you cannot be serious, I thought (and I apologise for calling you Shirley), someone honestly, actually, wants you to build a fucking great wall to prevent non-residents (the horror!) from sitting in the plaza enjoying a quiet can or 25 of Strongbow?  Doubtless that’ll help shift those empty shop units, not to mention the restaurant space that remains resolutely barren.

But if that was mildly concerning at least it was also laughable.  Yes it can be irritating to walk past a gaggle of boorish drunks failing to rap freestyle – it’s called ‘rhythm’ and it’s actually quite important, chaps – or some of those hormonal teenagers they have these days grinding and slobbering over one another.  But a wall seems…what’s the word? Not disproportionate.  Oh yes, bloody stupid.

More worrying was the proposal to introduce a parking company to patrol the underground car park and dole out tickets to the undeserving.  Because that’s the sort of thing that might be taken seriously even if complaining about it in the first place seems, frankly, childish.  But I thought to myself oh-ho, common sense and sound reason will prevail: a profit-seeking business that raises its profits by dishing out fines is what one might call incentivised to dish out as many fines as it can get away with.

And besides, said car park is currently never ever ever more than half full.

In fact, by the time all the flats have been sold in a year or two and there might be some actual, y’know, reason for residents to be concerned about finding somewhere to park, the bays will all have been properly allocated.

A solution in want of a problem in other words.  And the only people who genuinely complain about problems that quite clearly don’t exist are petty venal wankers, whereas my fellow residents all seem like genuine grown-ups with functioning reasoning skills.

So I duly filled out my objection on the slip provided, dropped it in a post box and thought nothing more of it (I hoped against hope that the whole thing was anyway a token gesture designed to placate the disgusted-of-Tunbridge-Wells types who’d complained to you in the first place).

But if the enduring popularity of climate change denial, certain tabloid newspapers and various political figures teaches us anything it’s that this country is full of wankers.  And the wankers usually win.

I have a parking bay, which is currently unoccupied.  Nevertheless, I have the right to use it more or less as I see fit.  It’s no business of any other occupier of this building whether I choose to let a visitor park in my space, park my own car in it or leave it empty.  It has no impact on them whatsoever.  Likewise, I’m not bothered by how others use their bays.  If a non-resident smuggles themselves in and parks somewhere I appreciate that that might piss someone off.  For maybe 30 seconds.  But again, if that someone can park their car in what remains a half empty car park, then it’s really not a big deal.

What is likely to be a problem, however, is someone employed specifically to patrol around doing his or her utmost to leverage as much money as possible.  And I’ve yet to come across a parking company that doesn’t in fact require its workforce to do that, despite whatever trite assurances they might have given you before you contracted with them.

I note that they’ll be charging £5 for the privilege of reprinting a paper permit.  Doesn’t exactly bode well.

The wankers usually win, because they complain louder and for longer than the normals.  But they’re usually wrong, because they’re self-entitled or short-sighted or something else involving a hyphen.  I urge you to reconsider this decision, it’s unnecessary, it’s disproportionate and it’ll probably end up costing individual residents a fair whack of money for no better reason than to try to dissuade outsiders with their peculiar ways from using otherwise empty spaces.

Don’t let the wankers win.

Yours faithfully

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I emailed it to a friend for feedback before posting:

(Him:) I’m bound to ask: is this a joke letter? I mean did you write it just to amuse yourself or are you actually hoping that it will be engaged with (in which case it is genuinely the most ill-conceived letter I have ever read)?

(Me:) Am sorely tempted to post it and be damned.

Please do tell me how it is genuinely the most ill-conceived letter you have ever read.

(Him:) Come on, you know what I’m going to say for God’s sake.

  • It’s a page too long
  • the fact that you’re making Shirley puns in the first paragraph implies that you don’t really care about the issue (this is how they’ll see it)
  • the fact that you’re insulting (implicitly or otherwise) the people you’re trying to persuade every five seconds means they’re probably going to stop reading after said first paragraph.
  • the people who sit on this committee are probably the sort of people who consider profanity synonymous with idiocy and who will seize your first use of the word “fuck” as an excuse to stop reading.
  • these people are not going to be bothered to wade through the insults and anecdotes about arrhythmic rappers and stuff to get to your actual point. So they’ll stop reading.
  • if, on the off chance they are intelligent enough to find the anecdotes amusing and the swearing appropriate, they’re also likely to be intelligent enough to realise that the letter is just you tossing off. And, yep, they’ll stop reading.

Just stage a protest or something. Get everyone to stage a carpark sit-in drinking endless cans of Strongbow.

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So I did.  Just me in the end, sitting in my underpants because it was unusually warm down there.  And I don’t like cider myself, so I drank a chocolate milkshake.  And then it got cold so I went back upstairs to finish my milkshake (it brings all the boys to the yard).  But I think they got the message.

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