How to write complaint letter

Complaint letter:

In the IELTS general module task 1, you very often are asked to write a complaint letter about poor service in a restaurant, faulty goods, an appliance stop working and has not been fixed yet, and so on. The complaints letters should always be formal/semi-formal and very polite in tone.

1. Structure:

  • Recall the specific incident.
  • State the problem precisely: what it is, when you notice it, how it caused trouble.
  • Provide factual details. For a problem with an inefficient service person, state date and time of the incident, name of the person involved (if you know the name), place of occurrence, description of his or her behaviour. For a problem with goods, date and place of purchase, sales slip number, description of the product, model or serial number, amount paid. For a problem with the airlines: date and time of the flight, flight number, points of origin and termination, description of the incident or problem, where and when it took place.
  • Tell why it is important to fix the problem.
  • Say what you expect the reader to do: replacement, repair, refund, exchange. State the amount if you want money. Request a sensible solution.
  • Close by showing your confidence in the reader’s desire to take the right step and ability to resolve the problem tailoring your satisfaction. (“I am confident that you will want to replace this defective mobile phone; “I am sure you will find a solution to this problem”.)

2. Useful Vocabulary for Complaint Letters:

Word Sentence
Action It would be appreciated if you take prompt action to end this matter.
Adjustment I expect an adjustment to be made as soon as possible.
Agree-upon Let it be done as has been agreed-upon.
Concerned I am concerned about Coach Smith’s angry, abusive manner with the junior rugby players.
Damage As these costs and damages will necessarily be passed on to you, you may want to check into the situation.
Defective I am writing with regard to the complaints over defective goods.
Disappointed I was extremely disappointed with the inferior service I received at your restaurant on 5 January, 2016.
Displeased I was terribly displeased with your work.
Dissatisfaction I am writing to inform you of my dissatisfaction with the television I bought on January 3, 2016.
Embarrassing I do not wish to create an embarrassing situation, but if the problem continues I will have no other alternative way but to contact the authority.
Exasperating Your dog barks exasperatingly in the wee hours of the morning.
Experience We experienced the following problem in your restaurant last week.
Fault We expect some compensations from the merchandize at fault.
Flaw After receiving the product, I notice that the gadget has several flaws.
Grievance I look forward to your response with details of a grievance meeting where we can have a discussion and hopefully come to a solution.
Impolite I have never been seen such an impolite waiter
Inadequate The renovation appears to be inadequate for our requirements.
Incident I know you will want to see that such an incident does not occur again.
Lax I am writing to express my concern about lax server at your outlet.
Miscalculation I am writing to complain that miscalculations were made in counting the items.
Misconstrued My advice was deliberately misconstrued.
Mishandled The officer had mishandled the situation.
Misprint I am writing to draw your attention that the voucher contains quite a few misprint.
Misunderstanding I would like to clear up this misunderstanding as soon as possible.
Off-putting I wonder if you are aware that the condition of your waiting room is off-putting.
Overcharged I am writing to inform you that I have been overcharged by $200.
Regret I regret to inform you of the following unpleasant situation.
Reimburse The most satisfactory solution for us would be for you to send us a replacement mobile phone and reimburse us for the cost of mailing the defective mobile phone.
Repair It is my understanding that it will be repaired at your expense.
Replace It is my understanding that it will be replaced at your expense.
Resolve I am confident that we can resolve this matter to our mutual satisfaction.
Restore I would like you to make some compensation to restore our confident.
Unpleasant I hope you find this letter helpful rather than unpleasant—it was written with the best intentions.


3. Handy Expressions for Complaint Letters:

Expression Sentence
A mix up in my order I have experienced a mix up with my order. My order number is # 87563 and I ordered the Kindle Touch. The package I received contained somebody else’s order # 87564 a Neat-Freak Makeup roll.
Anything you can do to… will be greatly appreciated. Anything you can do to end this dispute, will be greatly appreciated.
Appealing to you for help I am appealing to you for help this dispute to be resolved.
As a longtime customer As a longtime customer, I was truly disappointed by your service.
As if this were not enough As if this were not enough, when we complaint about the waiter to the manager, he also favour the waiter.
Call to your immediate attention I write to call to your immediate attention to attempt to build a complex occupying our only park in our neighbourhood.
Correct your records
Defective upon arrival I received a mobile phone which was defective upon arrival.
Does not meet our performance/standards
Even after having done/spent…., the problem was not solved. Even after having contacted several time to your help desk, the problem was not solved.
Expect to hear from you soon I do expect to hear from you soon.
I am concerned about I am writing this letter because I am concerned about the proposed structure in our neighbourhood.
I feel certain you would want to know that I feel certain you would want to know that the service I received at your outlet on January 8, 2016.
It has come to my attention that It has come to my attention that the smoke erupted for the factories is polluting the air in our neighbourhood.
It is with reluctance that I must inform you It is with reluctance that I must inform you about defective merchandize.
I am afraid that if these conditions are not met, we may… I am afraid that if these conditions are not met, we may be forced to take legal action.
I am expecting the courtesy of a prompt reply. I am expecting the courtesy of a prompt reply.
It I do not…, I will have no option but to… It I do not have any compensation, I will have no option but to contact with the higher authority.
It was disconcerting to find that It was disconcerting to find that the receptionist could have adequate information, a job which surely required a range of information.
I was displeased/distressed/disturbed/disappointed/offended by I was displeased/distressed/disturbed/disappointed/offended by the impolite behaviour of your sales assistant.
I wish to be reimbursed for I wish to be reimbursed for the cost of broken and wrong rental delivered to me.
I would like to alert you to I would like to alert you to something about our neighbourhood that need attention.
May not be aware that May not be aware thatyour dog is currently causing a noise nuisance by barking.
Not up to your usual high standards I am writing to draw your attention on the service I received on last night that was not up to your usual high standards.
Register a complaint about The reason I am writing this letter is to register a complaint about the waiter named Mr Smith.
Under the condition of warranty I wish I am entitled to the replacement under the condition of warranty.
Unless you….,I have no choice but to… Unless you solve the dispute within the above mention time, I have no choice but to take legal action.
Unpleasant incident I request you to take a serious note of this unpleasant incident, being reputed service provider.
Unsatisfactory performance We do not expect such an unsatisfactory performance from the company like you.
We are unhappy with We are unhappy with the level of customer service you provide.
With all possible speed I expect you to send an explanation with all possible speed.
You have generally given us excellent service, but You have generally given us excellent service, but I would like to alert you to the download speed of your connection.


Example Question and Model Answer:

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

You bought an electronic device from an online store. Unfortunately it was damaged when it reached your hands.Write a letter to the seller and explain:

What the damage was and what you want them to do.

You should write at least 150 words.

You do NOT need to write any address.

Model Answer:

Dear Sir or Madam,

On November 12, I purchased a micro-wave woven, invoice# 2865, from your online store. I paid a price of $238 plus tax for the product. You gave me 1 year warranty on the product and 6 months money back guaranty. I was told that in case of any damage with the gadget all my money will be given back to me with immediate effect or if I wish I could choose another one.

Unfortunately, the device was troublesome for me since the very first day. For two or three days it seemed good. But I, then, discovered that the microwave exhaust fan did not work properly. It was only just the beginning. Then it went dead in mid-cycle and now it is completely dead as though unplugged. Imagine my situation when I came home late night and could not prepare my meal because the device did not work properly.

As a longtime customer, I wish to have the microwave oven replaced under the conditions of the warranty. Please let me know at once how you plan to replace the oven that cooks properly.
I look forward to settling the matter amicably.

Brian A Jones.

Part 1: 10 Useful Tips for Top-Notch Letters
Part 2: How to begin and end the letters
Part 3: How to write complaint letter
Part 4: How to write resignation letter
Part 5: How to write Cover letter