Complaints in writing
As it usually happens with writing tasks, a specific task, like writing complaints, can present itself in many different formats in the exam. For example:
1 Write an email to a supplier using the information below:
• You ordered 1,000 t-shirts but only 800 were delivered.
• You need these t-shirts urgently.
• There is also a problem with the position of the logo –it should be placed on the right, not in the centre.
• When you called to speak to someone about it, no-one was willing to deal with you to solve the problem.
• You have been customers for five years and demand a quick solution or you will stop doing business.
2 You have received this letter from a hotel after a recent visit.
Thank you very much for filling out our feedback questionnaire. We are sorry to see that you were not satisfied with your arrival arrangements. Would you be so kind as to provide us with detailed comments and make suggestions for improvement? We trust the rest of your stay was satisfactory and will happily give you one night’s free accommodation the next time you visit us.
Write your letter of complaint.
3 You recently went for a meal at Benny's fast food restaurant, which is part of an international chain. Unfortunately, the service was very slow and the food was badly cooked so you complained to the supervisor. However, he was very rude to you and insisted on your paying for your meal. You have decided to write a letter of complaint to the company's head office. Write your letter, explaining the reasons for your complaint and saying what you expect the company to do.
4 Write a blog entry describing a complaint you have about a specific aspect of everyday life.
Whatever the task, you will always have to pay attention to several details outside the complaint itself. This involves:
• Study the task carefully and mark all the points in the task.
• As far as possible, use your own words and avoid copying sentences and phrases from the input of the task.
• Use the appropriate layout and conventions for the piece of writing you have been asked to produce –formal/informal letter or email, blog entry.
• Organise the information in paragraphs.
• Use connectors to list and link your arguments.
• Use sufficiently complex sentence structures and a good range of vocabulary.
• Use the register consistently –formal, neutral or informal.
• Write the required number of words approximately.
The paragraph structure when writing complaints will usually keep to the following plan:
• First paragraph: Give reason(s) for writing and all the necessary back ground information.
• Middle paragraph(s): Give details of the problem(s) and the consequences they had on you.
• Final paragraph: Summarise the difficulties and request action.
Reasons for writing
I am writing...
… in connection with my order FS690 which arrived today.
… to complain about the poor service we received from your company.
… to complain about the quality of a product I bought from your website.
I would like to begin by saying how frustrated I was…
My next complaint was with …
Another problem was …
The thing that angered me the most was …
Request for action
I hope that / trust this situation will not occur again.
I would be extremely grateful if you could give me a reply before tomorrow.
I would appreciate it if you would send me a refund.
If I do not hear from you within two weeks, I am afraid I will have to take legal action.
For a corrected and explained letter of complaint, check Flo-Joe here.
Microsoft also offers a wide range of sample letters of complaints here.
For other models of corrected and explained composition tasks you can visit Flo-Joe.
With information from First Certificate Expert, Longman.