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How to Reply to Complaints

Aim:
This page is to help you write letters replying to complaints (also called adjustment letters). On this page are the stages of dealing with complaints, some useful expressions, some example letters, and an exercise.

 

 

 
Dealing with Complaints
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Acknowledging receipt of a complaint letter
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Accepting a Complaint

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Apology for the error or fault
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Accepting the Complaint
 
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Rejecting a Complaint
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Regret at dissatisfaction
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Rejecting responsibility for the problem leading to the complaint
| |
| | |

A short explanation
of the fault

Investigation
to be made

Reasons for the rejection
 
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| |
|
Proposal to settle the difficulty
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An offer to take goods back, make a replacement, give a discount etc.
 
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If a third party (another person or organisation) is to blame, direct the complainer to that party
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A concluding paragraph aiming at retaining the goodwill of the customer

Useful Expressions

Acknowledging receipt of a complaint letter

  • Thank you for your letter of … regarding / concerning / in connection with …
  • I refer to your letter of … about / relating to …

Apology for the error or fault

  • We must apologise for …
  • We sincerely apologise for …
  • Please accept our apologies for …
  • I would like to apologise for the error made by our company in (verb+ing)

Accepting the Complaint

  • We agree that the usual high standards of our products / services were not met in this instance.

A short explanation of the fault

  • Introductory phrase
    • As a result of our investigation, we found that... (Not: After our investigation...)
  • Causes
    • The error was caused by … / was due to …
    • Apparently, the problem was the result of … / resulted from …
    • The cause of / reason for the mistake was …
  • Effects
    • As a result …
    • This led to …
    • Consequently …
  • Solutions
    • We have modified / changed our ...
    • We have implemented a system to...
    • To prevent re-occurrences we have set up a verification procedure.
  • Assurances
    • We assure you that this will not happen again.

 

Investigation to be made

  • We are currently investigating the cause of ...

  • We will investigate the cause of...

Proposal to settle the difficulty

  • As a gesture of our regret, we are prepared to …/ we are willing to …/ we would like to …
  • To show goodwill, we will …

An offer to take goods back, make a replacement, give a discount etc.

  • We have dispatched the new items by express courier. They should arrive by
  • To show our goodwill, we would like to offer you a 5% discount on your next order with us.

Regret at dissatisfaction

  • While we can understand your frustration, ...
  • We understand how disappointing it can be when your expectations are not met.

Rejecting responsibility for the problem leading to the complaint

  • I regret to inform you that …
  • I am afraid that …
  • Unfortunately, I must point out that …

Reasons for the rejection

  • This is because the guarantee period has expired.
  • This is due to the fact that the guarantee period has expired.

If a third party (another person or organisation) is to blame, direct the complainer to that party

  • We therefore suggest that you contact...

A concluding paragraph aiming at retaining the goodwill of the customer

  • We look forward to receiving your further orders, and assure you that they will be filled correctly / promptly.

 

Example Letters

Everlong Batteries
171 Choi Hung Road
Hung Hon, Hong Kong
Tel/Fax 2235 2449


Mr J Wong
Purchasing Officer
Fortune Goods
317 Orchard Road
Singapore

Dear Mr Wong

Order No. 2639/L

Please accept our apologies for the error made by our company in filling your order no. 2639/L dated

You ordered 12,000 size Ultra super-long-life premium batteries, but our dispatch office sent 1,200. This was due to a typing error.

The balance of 10,800 batteries was dispatched by express courier to your store this morning and will arrive by

Since we value your business, we would like to offer you a 10% discount off your next order with us.

We look forward to receiving your further orders and assure you that they will be filled correctly.

Yours sincerely
   David Choi
David Choi
Distributions Manager
 

 
Everlong Batteries
171 Choi Hung Road
Hung Hon, Hong Kong
Tel/Fax (852) 2235 2449


Mr J Wong
Purchasing Officer
Fortune Goods
317 Orchard Road
Singapore

Dear Mr Wong

Order No. 2639/L

Thank you for your letter of regarding your order no. 2639/L. We understand that this is a difficult situation for you.

We have investigated the situation, and found that you ordered 12,00 size Ultra super-long-life premium batteries. Please see the enclosed copy of your order form. Our dispatch office therefore sent 1,200.

If you need the remaining batteries urgently, the balance of 10,800 batteries can be dispatched today by express courier to your store and would arrive by

Please phone me at the number given above if you would like to order these batteries.

We look forward to receiving your further orders.

Yours sincerely
   David Choi
David Choi
Distributions Manager

Encl:
- Order Form No. 2639/L
 

Exercise

Introduction:
This task is for you to practise matching the types of sentence you need in adjustment letters with suitable sentences.

Instructions:
Match the items in the boxes on the left with the items on the right:

  1. Click in the table cell containing the item you want to move.
  2. Click in the table cell where you want the item to go. The words will swap position.
  3. If an item is in the right position, it will have a green background and a tick.
  4. When all the table cells are green and have ticks, you have finished.

       Score: /

   
1 1   1
2 2 2
3 3 3
4 4 4
5 5 5
6 6 6
7 7 7
8 8 8
9 9 9
10 10 10

Related pages:
Adjustment letters:

 

Last updated on: Monday, March 26, 2012