Got a complaint? There's a right way and a wrong way -- a way to get action on a problem you have with a product and a way that won't. Don't, for instance, forget to give your name and address.

Yet, consumers often do omit such vital information when writing to manufacturers about problem products, according to consumer affairs professionals. If you want to complain about a product, first check the label to see if it has a toll-free number. If not, the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor must by law be listed on the label. Address the letter to the consumer affairs department and include the following: Your complete address and telephone number, including your business phone, in case the company wants to contact you. A specific description of the product. Write down the exact brand (including whether the product is, for example, the "home style" or "low salt" version). Also include the container size, the lot or batch number and any other serial number on the label.

The product's "best when purchased by" date, if there is one.

The price you paid for the product, and the date and place of purchase, if you can remember, so the company can determine whether the problem occurred during distribution. Save the sales slip, if you have it, and send a copy of it if requested by the firm. The exact nature of the problem. Be specific. Don't just say the product tasted "bad." Say it tasted "tinny," "bitter," or whatever. Goodman suggests if you find a foreign object in the product to attach it to the letter, if possible. Save the spoiled product, especially if you suspect it caused an illness in your family. If you believe it did, you should contact your local health authorities. If you believe the problem is serious enough, you might want to contact the approrpriate regulatory agencies. (Once outside agencies are contacted, the cost to the company of resolving the complaint goes up several hundred dollars.) If the product is a commercially packaged meat or poultry product, call U.S. Department of Agriculture's meat and poultry hotline; (202) 472-4485. For other food products contact the Food and Drug Administration; (301) 443-3170.