D Letters of Complaint

1 E£$ You will hear two people discussing a letter which one of them is going to send. Listen to the cassette and answer the questions below.

a) What is the main purpose of the letter?

b) What complaints does Cathy make in her letter?

c) What does Cathy want the manufacturer i to do?

d) What is Cathy going to do if her letter is ignored?

/JET A formal I jr* faulty met

A formal letter of complaint is written to complain about a problem which has arisen (e.g. faulty merchandise, rude staff, inaccurate information, etc). It should explain the reasons for the complaint, and usually includes a suggestion/request/ demand concerning what should be done (e.g. refund, compensation, etc).

Mild or strong language can be used depending on the writer's feelings and the seriousness of the complaint, but abusive language must never be used, e.g. Mild Complaint:

/ am writing to complain about a factual error in yesterday's newspaper. I hope that you will give this matter your prompt attention. Strong Complaint:

I am writing to express my strong disapproval concerning the offensive behaviour of an employee at your company's Winchester Road branch. I demand a full, written apology or I will be forced to take legal action.

The nature of the complaint should be clearly stated in the first paragraph. Each aspect of the topic should be presented in a separate paragraph containing a clear topic sentence. Each complaint should be supported by clear justification.

Useful Language

To begin letters:

Mild complaint complain about/ draw your attention to (the problem of)... express my disappointment/dissatisfaction with ...

Strong complaint

I am writing to express my annoyance/extreme dissatisfaction with /anger at /protest about

I regret to/feel I must inform you how appalled/shocked I was ... To end letters: Mild complaint

' be dealt with/resolved as soon as possible, receive your immediate attention, not be treated lightly. I feel that you should .../I am entitled to compensation/a refund/a replacement. Strong complaint

I (must) insist on .../insist (that)/demand .../warn you that...

Unless this matter is resolved .../Unless satisfactory compensation is offered ...

I will have no choice but to/I will be forced to take further/legal action.

I am writing to

I hope/trust this matter will


Paragraph 1

state reason (s) for writing

Moiii Body

Paragraphs 2-3*

state complaint(s) with justification

Paragraphs 4-5*

suggest what should be done


Final Paragraph closing remarks Full name

* The exact number and division of paragraphs will depend on the specific instructions for each letter-writing task.

2 Read the instructions and the model letter below and find the topic sentence of each paragraph. Then, underline any phrases which you feel are too informal for a letter of this kind, as in the example. (The numbers in circles indicate the lines which contain the informal phrases.) Replace these with the phrases from the list below.

a) compensate me for, b) otherwise I will be forced to, c) I am writing to express my extreme dissatisfaction with, d) I insist that you, e) Despite my objections, f) Having no other alternative, g) I therefore request that you, h) Contrary to what I had been told

You recently hired a car for a part of your holiday. However, there were several problems with the arrangements. Write a letter of complaint to the manager/manageress explaining the problems and requestinq compensation.

/AT Linking Words

/ Complaints and justifications can be

* linked together as follows:

I purchased the camcorder only a month ago but the rewind button does not function properly.

I purchased the camcorder a month ago. Nevertheless, / However, the rewind button does not function properly.

The rewind button does not function properly in spite of / despite the fact that

I purchased the camcorder only a month ago.

Although / Even though I purchased the camcorder only a month ago, the rewind button does not function properly.

Dear Sir/Madam,

© I'm writing this because I'm reallg upset about the service I received when I rented one of your cars on 20th July.

Firstly, I had specifically requested a four-door model. However, I was given a smaller two-door version which, apart from being too small for d)my needs, was clearly in need of extensive repair. I moaned about it but your employees informed me that it was the only car available and ($)assured me that it was in perfect order. I couldn't do anything else, so I

accepted the vehicle. © Although they said there weren't, there were, in fact, several things wrong with the car. Despite the /act that I had driven it for only one hour, I was forced to stop when the engine showed signs of overheating. Having added two litres of water to the radiator, I was able to continue, although during the course of my journey a knocking sound from the engine became increasingly persistent and the windscreen wipers stopped working.

My subsequent journey was most uncomfortable. Not only did I have the worry of driving a car which was not roadworthy, but I also had to stop on three occasions to refill the radiator. Finally, I had no choice but to leave the car at your Oxford branch and continue my journey using public transport.

I feel that your employees acted irresponsibly in issuing a car which was not safe to drive, and I believe I am entitled to compensation for (S)the interruption to my holiday. So I want you to send me the sum of (§) £200 to cover the cost of my train ticket and to make me feel better after the distress I was forced to suffer as a result of your negligence. 0 You'd better give this matter your urgent attention, or else I really (§) will have to take legal action.

Yours faithfully,

5. "THailiAott

Mr S. Mallison

3 Match the complaints and justifications below, then join them using appropriate linking words/phrases.


The goods we ordered have not been received yet.

Our wooden floors have become dull.

The batteries died after a few hours.

The hotel was an hour's drive from the beach.

The film was too long and very boring.

The knife became blunt after only a month's use.

7 The mascara made my eyes water.

8 My daughter's watch stopped after she swam with it on.

Justification a The label on the packet claims they are long-lasting.

b We were told they would not lose their shine, c They were shipped a month ago. d We were told it was within walking distance, e The manufacturer claims it is hypoallergenic. f The trailer said it would keep me on the edge of my seat.

g The package label states that it is waterproof.

h You said it was guaranteed to stay sharp for five years.

Ml 7d Leílers oí Comploinl the blanks in the letter^ hi 7VmgPi^ Then'fi"in

« * meantime, therefore, not only... but also, ^ thus, furthermore, as a result, although, since letter explaining why you wLe dfsannnS w°PPed S"ghtly' Write a be done to improve the siSn ^ and su99estin9 what could

Introduction reason for writing

Main Body

Dear Mr Seward,

It is with regret that I feel I must write to express my ^appointment at the quality of food and service I received at your restaurant yesterday evening.

(1) your food is usually of a very high standard I felt that, on this occasion, the meal left a lot to be desired. The preparation and presentation seemed hurried and careless. (2) neither my guest nor I felt inclined to finish our meal.

(3j , the service was not what I have come to expect from your establishment, our waiter was rather inattentive and slow, (4)... not only ... in taking our order ... but also... in bringing the dishes. (5)

the reason for my visit was to entertain a client, I was somewhat disturbed at the apparent fall in standards. On the basis of my previous experience of your restaurant, I had promised my guest an especially memorable dinner, and was (6) deeply embarrassed to be proved entirely wrong.

Might I suggest that, as the manager, it would be advisable for you to oversee the preparation of food person-

ally (7) I realise the work involved in running a restaurant is very demanding, I

(8 ) feel that the standard of the food served is of utmost importance. I would recommend,

(9 ) , that you give this matter your urgent attention.

Regarding the service, I would suggest that you speak to the waiter concerned to ensure that other customers are not s\m\larly inconvenienced. This would help your restaurant maintain its well-deserved reputat\on.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. (10) 1 h°Pe y°u wi"

take my comments into consideration.


5 Read the instructions below and the beginnings and endings from letters of complaint. Then match the beginnings and endings and say whether the language in each pair is mild, strong or abusive. Which level of language would be most appropriate for the situation described?

You recently travelled by coach and were very disappointed with the service provided by the staff, and the delays you encountered. Write a letter to the company to complain and to demand compensation.

1 I am writing to express my total dissatisfaction with the appalling service I experienced on one of your coaches from Cardiff to Coventry on 24th May.

2 I am writing to complain about the poor quality of the service I experienced on one of your coaches from Cardiff to Coventry on 24th May.

3 I am writing to draw your attention (if you have any, which I doubt) to the fact that the staff who 'served' us on your Cardiff -to-Coventry coach on 24th May are incompetent, idle fools.

A I hope that you will look into this situation as a matter of some urgency, and that the service offered by your company will improve.

B Organise your pitiful company efficiently and stop cheating the public by charging outrageous prices for fifth-rate service.

C I insist that my wife and I receive a full refund of the price of our tickets, and must warn you that unless this matter is resolved at once I will not hesitate to take legal action.

6 Read the following situations, and say whether mild or strong language would be more appropriate for a letter concerning each one. Then, choose two situations and write a suitable beginning and ending for a letter of complaint about each.

1 your neighbour's dog barks at night — you can't sleep

2 the hotel receptionist forgot to place your wake-up call - you overslept, missed your flight and had to pay for another ticket

3 you found a piece of glass in a packet of frozen food - you nearly swallowed it

4 the TV guide always has inaccuracies concerning dates and times -you can't be sure what programmes will be shown

5 the birthday cake you ordered wasn't delivered on time - the children were extremely disappointed

6 there was no lifeguard on duty at the public swimming pool — your child almost drowned

7 Look at the following writing task instructions and then answer the questions below. The questions apply to both tasks.

a) You are the manager of a supermarket which is losing customers because employees of the company next door park their cars in the supermarket parking area. Write a letter of complaint to the company and suggest what should be done.

b) You have noticed that students at your son's school are often left unattended. Write a letter of complaint to the headmaster and ask him to ensure that the situation does not continue.

• What greeting would you use?

• What is the main purpose for writing the letter?

• What is the additional purpose?

• What paragraph plan would you use?

• What useful expressions could you use as opening and closing remarks?

• How would you sign the letter?

8 Choose ONE of the writing tasks above, and write a complete paragraph plan with notes. Then write the letter in about 300 words.

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  • hannu haajanen
    How to write mild complaint?
    8 years ago
  • Bell
    How to write a letter because my daughter had overslept yesterday?
    4 years ago
  • Seth
    How to express dissatisfactionwith a car company?
    4 years ago
  • rudi
    What is complaint in composition 2?
    4 years ago
  • Grace
    What must be in a composition letter?
    4 years ago
  • pamela
    What is d letter of complaint?
    3 years ago

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