Use these draft letters as a guide when you need to put your complaint about services in writing.

Knowing what to write in a letter of complaint can be difficult. Use our letters as a guide for complaints about poor workmanship, excessive charges after a quote was given, delays in service and more.

Letter regarding poor workmanship

[Date]

Dear ...

[Address and job number if there is one]

On [date] you carried out the following work for me. [Describe].

The work is unsatisfactory because [describe].

You have an obligation to carry out work you do with reasonable skill and to an acceptable standard. You have not met these legal requirements.

I am happy to give you 14 days to put matters right but in the meantime I will be withholding the payment of your account.

Please contact me to arrange a convenient time to have the remedial work done.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

Work done by tradespeople - be they builders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, hairdressers or whoever - must be carried out with reasonable skill and competence. If the work is not, then the Consumer Guarantees Act says you can ask the person who did the job to fix it at no cost to you. If they can't or won't, then you can employ others and claim the cost from the original tradesperson.

Letter disputing excessive charge for services

[Date]

Dear ...

[Type of work]

On [date] I asked you to carry out the following [describe]. I was given a quotation of [amount].

When I received my bill I was charged [amount]. This is [amount] more than the quotation.

You have perhaps made a mistake in the preparation of my account. However, if the job did involve you in more work than you expected, then that is not my responsibility. A quotation is binding in law and I have no liability to pay more than the figure you first quoted.

I am very satisfied with the work you have done and enclose my cheque for the original quoted amount.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

A quotation is an exact indication of the cost of a job. It is given by the trader and is binding on both parties if accepted. If a job takes longer than expected you can't be asked to pay the difference. Conversely, if a job takes a shorter time or uses less material than first thought, you will still have to pay the quoted sum. The law applies just as much to professionals as it does to trades. It always pays to get a quote in writing.

Letter disputing an excessive price

[Date]

Dear ...

[Type of work]

On [date] you [describe the work] for me.

The work was urgent and in the rush I did not ask for - nor did you give me - a price for the job.

Yesterday [date] I received your bill and was horrified at the total.

I have contacted three other [name trade or profession] and they gave me estimates ranging between [quote figures] that they would have charged for [describe].

Under the law you are only entitled to charge a reasonable price for your services. I am not prepared to pay what you ask unless you can justify exceptional circumstances.

Thank you for your prompt service and satisfactory job. My only argument is with the amount you are billing me.

As a sign of good faith I have enclosed payment for the average of the three estimates I have obtained.

If you wish to discuss this matter further please don't hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

If you haven't agreed on a price then you can only be charged what is reasonable given the work that was done and the skill used. This is covered by the Consumer Guarantees Act. Where possible in this situation, you should pay for work done by cheque, clearly marked "Full and Final Settlement".

Disputing an estimate

Letter disputing an estimate

[Date]

Dear ...

[Address and estimate number if there is one]

On [date] you [describe work] for me.

You will remember that I asked how much the work would cost and you gave me an estimate of [amount].

I was shocked when yesterday I was told the charge would be [amount]. This was almost [half as much again or whatever] as the estimate you gave me.

I pointed out the large difference but you said I had to pay or else you would hold my [item if it is the repair of a product].

Under duress I paid, but I have now taken advice from [name] and am told that in law a final price should be close to the estimate - certainly no more than 20 percent above.

I ask that you refund [amount] within seven days. As you will see, I have allowed what I consider to be a reasonable margin for unexpected costs you may have failed to include in your estimate.

I look forward to receiving your payment.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

Estimates are approximate prices. Nevertheless they must be close to the mark. Tradespeople and professionals are experts in their field of work and they should give figures that are close to the true cost of jobs. In our opinion you can challenge an account that is more than, say, 20 percent above an estimate. Always ask to be contacted if unforeseen problems crop up during a job.

Letter to electrician/plumber/builder about delays

[Date]

Dear ...

[Address and job number if there is one]

I am concerned about your delay in completing the [describe work] contracted for the above property.

Before I accepted your quote you assured me the work would be completed by [date]. Now [period of time] later it is still not finished. [Detail what remains to be done].

I cannot wait any longer for you to complete this contract.

Please finish the work within [include reasonable time] from the date of this letter or I shall have to consider our contract at an end. I will then have the work done by another tradesperson and will deduct the cost from the amount owing to you.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

If the time a job takes is important to you - and it usually is - you can make a completion date part of a contract. Always agree on a time before a job starts. Remember, reasonable allowance must be made for bad weather if it is an outside job and for extras you may ask to be done once the job is under way.

Letter giving final notice to tradesmen

[Date]

Dear ...

[Address and job number if there is one]

In my letter of [date] I asked you to complete the work you have been doing at the above address within [quote time]. I am disappointed that you have neither replied to my letter nor completed the work.

I am therefore left with no alternative but to consider our contract at an end.

I shall have the work completed by another contractor at your expense. I am obtaining quotes from other tradespeople and will send you copies in due course.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

You are legally entitled to end a contract, but be sure of your ground. Always give at least one written warning.

Letter to a tradesperson regarding damages to your property

[Date]

Dear ...

[Address and job number if there is one]

On [date] your company carried out [describe the work].

While the job was being done your employee [describe the damage].

I ask that [describe] is repaired to its original condition within [state time].

I hope that you can meet this deadline. However, if you do not I will employ another firm to carry out the repair and will deduct the cost from your bill.

Yours sincerely

Point of Law

The Consumer Guarantees Act allows you to claim for damage caused by a person you've employed to do work. For example, if a plumber damages your kitchen floor while installing a dishwasher then the plumbing firm should meet the cost of the repair.