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How to lodge an e-complaint

While there's no real formula for writing successful "e-mails of complaint," the value of clarity and targeting can't be underestimated.

Ellen Phillips, author of "Shocked, Appalled, and Dismayed! How to Write Letters of Complaint That Get Results" (Vintage), offers this advice:

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Write your e-mail with as much attention to grammatical detail as you would a formal letter, and cc the president of the company, along with a consumer-advocacy group - governmental or private.

"Customer-service agents will respond in a more timely fashion if they know they aren't the only ones receiving the e-mail."

Document, "succinctly, concisely, and chronologically what happened to you on what date." Print out all correspondence and receipts. Whenever possible, send them with your e-mail as attachments.

Explain, briefly, your attempts to resolve the situation, showing that you've exhausted all measures to correct the problem.

Suggest a reasonable solution.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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