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5 Reasons Someone Would Ignore a Demand Letter

Camila Lopez - Demand Letter - June 6, 2024

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Contents

    When you have a dispute with an individual or business, you may choose to send them a demand letter which is a formal written communication. The purpose of the letter is to request that the recipient take some kind of action to resolve the dispute. In an ideal scenario, the recipient of the letter responds to your demands, and you are able to resolve the dispute quickly and easily. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes demand letters go unanswered.  

    Unsure why your demand letter was ignored? Here are 5 reasons why someone would ignore your demand letter:

    1. They don’t believe you have a legitimate claim. 

    2. Your demands are unreasonable or too high.

    3. You included threats or disparaging language in your demand letter. 

    4. Your case is complex, and the other person needs more time to consider your demands.

    5. They think the issue will go away on its own, and you won’t take legal action. 

    We go over each of these reasons below. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a professional and effective demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Reason 1: The Recipient Does Not Think You Have a Legitimate Claim

    It may be that the recipient read your letter and does not think that you have an actual claim against them. For example, if you sent a demand letter to a mechanic asking for a refund because they damaged your car. In your demand letter, you are asking for compensation so you can fix the damages. However, the mechanic doesn’t believe they damaged your car and ignores your demand letter. 

    Here are some ways you can make sure your letter doesn’t get ignored because of this reason: 

    • Include information that explains clearly what the problem is and how it was the recipient's fault. Don’t just send a demand letter with a set of demands. First, explain the issue at hand so the recipient knows what you are talking about. 

    • Attach evidence to the demand letter. This is another way you can illustrate your claim. Include photos, receipts, emails, or other correspondence between you and the recipient, etc. 

    Reason 2: Your Demands are Unreasonable or Too High 

    In some cases, the recipient of a demand letter may be unable to or unwilling to comply with your demands because they are unreasonable. For example, you sent a demand letter to your ex-roommate because they owe you the money you lent them. If, in your demand letter, you ask for twice the amount of money you are owed (without a good reason to do this), it is unlikely that your ex-roommate will accept your demands.

    Here are some ways you can make sure your letter doesn’t get ignored because of this reason: 

    • Make sure the demands you make in your letter are proportional to the damages you are alleging. Not only will your letter be ignored if you include demands that aren’t proportional or related to the issue at hand, but if you do take action later, the judge may bring up your demand letter and question you on why you made certain requests. 

    • Make demands you know the recipient can actually meet. If you know the recipient is unlikely to comply with your demands because they are too high or unattainable, try to figure out an achievable solution. For example, state you are open to discussing the matter further or discussing different payment arrangements. 

    Reason 3: You Threatened or Insulted the Recipient in Your Demand Letter 

    If you called the recipient names, made illegal threats, or otherwise used disparaging language in your demand letter, you may have soured your chances of receiving a response to your demand letter.

    Here are some tips when writing your demand letter to make sure you don’t sour relations between you and the recipient: 

    • Keep the tone of the letter professional. Remember, this is a formal communication you are sending. To avoid making matters worse, stick to the facts of the dispute and what you think could resolve the problem. 

    • Be clear and concise. Your demand letter shouldn’t be long. If you stick to the facts, make your demands, and avoid using overly aggressive or confrontational language, you are on your way to writing an efficient demand letter.

    • Keep the lines of communication open between you and the recipient. Provide whatever forms of communication you are comfortable with. This way, you are demonstrating you are open to communication and willing to work with the recipient to reach a solution. 

    Did you know we have a free tool powered by AI that helps you create a professional and effective demand letter? Check out our demand letter tool.

    Reason 4: Your Case is Complex and Requires Additional Considerations

    If you have a complex case, the other party may not be comfortable with simply meeting your demands right away. They may need time to review the issue at hand, seek legal advice, or may choose to ignore your demand letter and wait to see if you take legal action

    Here are some tips to help you write a demand letter involving a complex dispute: 

    • As always, make sure to write clearly and concisely so the facts of the dispute are laid out for the recipient. You want to make sure they understand your claim, what happened, and what you want them to do. 

    • Give them an appropriate amount of time to respond. If you know it make take a long time to reach a settlement in your particular situation, consider giving the recipient more time so they can really think about the demands you are making. 

    • As stated previously, let the recipient know you are open to discussing the matter further if necessary. For example, you may want to let the recipient know you are available for mediation. 

    Reason 5: The Recipient Thinks the Issue Will Go Away On Its Own

    In some cases, the recipient of a demand letter may ignore the demand letter until the problem goes away on its own. They may think you aren’t serious about taking further legal action and are trying to call you out on your bluff by not responding. The recipient probably doesn’t know that you are able to file a small claims lawsuit quickly, and affordable by using People Clerk

    Here are some tips to help you write a demand letter that will be taken seriously:

    • Include legal penalties or other consequences the recipient will face if they don’t resolve the problem. For example, you wrote a demand letter to your landlord asking for the return of your security deposit. In your demand letter, make sure your landlord knows they have probably violated state law by not returning your security deposit. This shows your landlord you know your legal rights, and you are willing to pursue these rights in small claims court. 

    • Attach pertinent evidence to your demand letter. Demonstrate to the recipient you are serious by attaching all the evidence on hand. This will show them you are ready to back up your claims in court if necessary. 

    • Include a clear statement of your intent to sue. Make sure that towards the end of your demand letter, you included language that shows the recipient you intend to sue them if they don’t respond to the demand letter.  

    What To Do When Your Demand Letter is Ignored

    Remember to give the recipient of the letter enough time to respond. They may not be ignoring your letter, they may just be taking some time to consider your demands. However, if the recipient hasn’t responded at all by the deadline you provided, it may be time to take further action

    Here are some steps you can take if your demand letter was ignored: 

    1. Send a final demand letter. 

    2. File a complaint with your state’s Attorney General’s Office.

    3. Sue in small claims court. 

    Send a Final Demand Letter

    Consider sending a final demand letter if your first demand letter was ignored. In your final demand letter, make sure to address any weaknesses your first letter may have had. Review the tips we provided above to make sure this final demand letter doesn’t get ignored as well. 

    Or check out our demand letter tool, which can also help you write an effective final demand letter. 

    File a Complaint With the Attorney General

    An Attorney General is the chief legal officer of a state. The Attorney General's office may be responsible for a wide range of legal issues, such as enforcing consumer protection and other regulatory laws.

    A state’s Attorney General’s Office also handles consumer complaints filed against businesses and individuals such as mechanics, landlords, and contractors. Filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s office is usually as easy as submitting a form online or calling a hotline. Here is our 50-state guide on how to file an Attorney General complaint. 

    Sue in Small Claims Court 

    If, after sending a final demand letter, you still haven’t been paid, consider suing in small claims court.  

    Small claims courts were designed to provide an accessible and cost-effective way for individuals and businesses to resolve their disputes without the need for a lawyer. In most cases, the parties involved will represent themselves in court.

    Here are some common types of cases filed in small claims courts: 

    • Your landlord did not return your security deposit.

    • Someone hit your car and won’t pay to reimburse you for the costs of fixing your car. 

    • Your clients won't pay you for services rendered or issue unjustified chargebacks

    • You lent someone money, and they won't pay you back.

    • You hired a mechanic to repair your car, and they did a terrible job.

    • You contracted with a painter to come paint your home, but they never show up. 

    • You paid a contractor to fix your roof, but they never showed up.

    • An airline lost or damaged your bags. 

    • Your tenant refuses to pay rent.


    How much can I sue for in small claims court? 

    The amount you can sue for in small claims court is known as the small claims limit. This amount varies by state and even by court. However, most states have a limit between $5,000 to $15,000. 

    This means you can only sue up to that amount in small claims court. If you want to sue for more than the small claims limit, you will have to waive whatever amount is over the limit or consider suing in a regular court (however, this is going to be more expensive). 

    How long do you have to sue in small claims court? 

    States have set deadlines, called statutes of limitations, that let you know by when you should sue someone. These deadlines will vary by state and by type of claim. For example, if you are filing a small claims lawsuit against a mechanic for property damage, you would need to look up the property damage statute of limitations in your state. 

    People Clerk can help prepare and file your small claims lawsuit.

    Author

    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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