Part 1. Complaint Letters
Exercise 1. Read the texts and tell your partner how to write complaint letters. Complaint letters A complaint letter requests some sort of compensation for defective or damaged merchandise or for inadequate or delayed services. While many complaints can be made in person, some circumstances require formal business letters. The complaint may be so complex that a phone call may not effectively resolve the problem; or the writer may prefer the permanence, formality, and seriousness of a business letter. The essential rule in writing a complaint letter is to maintain your poise and diplomacy, no matter how justified your gripe is. Avoid making the recipient an adversary. 1. In the letter, identify early the reason you are writing — to register a complaint and to ask for some kind of compensation. Avoid leaping into the details of the problem in the first sentence. 2. State exactly what compensation you desire, either before or after the discussion of the problem or the reasons for granting the compensation. (It may be more tactful and less antagonizing to delay this statement in some cases). 3. Provide a fully detailed narrative or description of the problem. This is the "evidence." 4. Explain why your request should be granted. Presenting the evidence is not enough: state the reasons why this evidence indicates your requested should be granted. 5. Suggest why it is in the recipient's best interest to grant your request: appeal to the recipient's sense of fairness, desire for continued business, but don't threaten. Find some way to view the problem as an honest mistake. Don't imply that the recipient deliberately committed the error or that the company has no concern for the customer. Toward the end of the letter, express confidence that the recipient will grant your request. Exercise 2. Translate and analyze the example complaint letter. Ellen Johnson Office Furniture Store 1920 Southeast Hulsizer Drive, Ankeny, IA, United States (515) 281-3705 February 12, 2012 Henry Richardson Customer Service, Fun Furniture 2025 East River Parkway, Minneapolis, MN, United States Dear Mr. Richardson: We were rather upset when you last consignment reached us, as the three boxes of office furniture arrived in damaged state. The packing as well as the items are soiled, scratched and broken. We can sell none of the 50 chairs and only 12 of the 50 desk lamps are usable.
Please replace the damaged goods respectively and grant us a price reduction on the slight damaged desks. We hope this matter will be settled as soon as possible because the items are very important for us. Yours truly, Ellen Johnson Purchase Manager
Exercise 3. Imagine that you work for a company and you receive a letter of complaint from one of your major customers. The letter ends with the sentence below: If you don’t deliver the goods immediately, we will look for another supplier! a) What would your reaction be? What would you think of the person who wrote such a letter? b) In the letter of complaint below, the sentence above is expressed more diplomatically. What makes it more diplomatic? Read the whole letter and underline the words and phrases which make the letter sound more tentative. Dear Mr Gray, We regret to inform you that the consignment of washing machines, order number 4457, which we were supposed to receive two months ago, has not arrived yet. We were promised an early delivery by your representative, and this was an important factor in persuading us to place this order with you. The delay in delivery is now causing serious inconvenience for our company as some of our customers are already cancelling their orders. We must therefore ask you to complete the order immediately, otherwise we shall be obliged to look for another supplier. Your prompt reply will be appreciated. Yours sincerely, Exercise 4. Here are some linguistic tips you could use in tricky situations. Read and discuss the...