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Personal Writing: In Your Write Mind 1. 269 Gather up all the paperwork related to the product or service in question--which you saved, like the careful consumer you are, rather than throwing it away with the box. Here's the proof you need to make your case: · Sales receipt · Work order · Canceled check or charge slip · Warranty booklet Quoth the Maven If you don't have the company's phone number or address because aliens stole your paperwork, check out your library's reference desk. They should be able to help you locate toll-free customer service numbers or the address of the company's corporate offices. 2. 3. Contact the company by letter. The letter approach allows you time to frame your complaint more carefully and completely. Follow these guidelines as you write: · Address the letter to the company president or the consumer complaint department. · Explain your problem with the product or service. · Include the model number, serial number, and any receipts. · State what you want. Be specific but reasonable. If the toaster broke after a month, a rea- sonable replacement is another toaster or a refund, not a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer or a week in Barbados. Quoth the Maven Many consumer agencies are now on the Net. For example, you can reach the New York office of the Better Business Bureau at You may have to pay a small fee when you contact the Better Business Bureau by phone, but the service is free through e-mail. · Be sure to include your return address and a daytime telephone number. 4. 5. · Keep the letter brief. Give the company sufficient time to respond to your complaint. If you haven't received satisfaction after what you judge to be a reasonable length of time, you can take the following steps: 1. 2. Assume the letter was misplaced and write again. Contact your local consumer affairs office or regulatory agencies. The next page shows a model letter of complaint.