English Writing Exercises for B2 – A letter of complaint

Preparation

1. Rewrite the sentences in more formal language. Use the correct form of the words in brackets.

1 I got the booking information from you. (receive)

  ________.

2 Your company didn’t say sorry. (offer / no apology)

  ________.

3 I really think you are to blame. (feel strongly / at fault)

  ________.

4 I think your online system should be looked at. (believe / review)

  ________.

5 I don’t want other people to have the same problems that I had. (be inconvienced / I was)

  ________.

6 Further problems will happen. (arise)

     ________.

Show answers

I received the booking information from you.

Your company offered no apology.

I feel strongly that you are at fault.

4 I believe your online system should be reviewed.

5 I don’t want other people to be inconvenienced as I was.

Further problems will arise.

2. Read the task and the letter below. What three things does the writer suggest?

You had a very poor train journey recently. You were rather dissatisfied with the experience. Write a letter to the train company saying why you are unhappy and suggest ways in which the service could be improved.

Dear Sir or Madam

I am writing to complain about train journey with Great Eastern on Sunday 20 July.

I booked a return ticket, reserved seats through your website and received confirmation of the booking. However, when I boarded the train, seat was already occupied by someone with the same reservation. I therefore had to stand for 45 minutes. To make matters worse, there was a delay in the departure of the train, but we were giving no information about this. We were held up for 35 minutes, which resulted in me missing connection and losing second seat reservation. I therefore waited for the next train. However, the air conditioning was not functioning in this train, and it was a very hot three-hour journey. There was no apology at any point.

I feel strongly that I deserve compensation for this deeply unsatisfactory journey. Firstly, I suggest that your online booking system be reviewed, as there are clearly problems. Secondly, there should be more information and help for passengers when problems occur. Finally, I request that there be bottled water available in extremely hot conditions.

I am applying for a refund for journey. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully

Simon Harding

Show answers

1 That the online booking system be reviewed.

2 That there should be more information and help for passengers when problems occur.

3 That there be bottled water available in extremely hot conditions.

Writing Strategy

When you write a formal letter:

Divide your letter into paragraphs.

In the introduction, explain why you are writing. At the end, tell the reader what you would like them to do.

Use formal language and avoid contractions and abbreviations.

Use the appropriate phrases to start and finish your letter, depending on whether you know the recipient by name.

Dear Sir or Madam -> Yours faithfully

Dear Mr Black / Ms White, etc. -> Yours sincerely

3. Find two examples of the subjunctive form in the letter.

Show answers

1 I suggest that your online booking system be reviewed.

2 I request that there be bottled water available in extremely hot conditions.

4. Rewrite the requests and demands using the subjunctive and the words in brackets.

1 I think you should review the booking procedure. (suggest)

  ________

2 I think you should announce delays. (recommend)

  ________

3 I think you should delay your decision. (propose)

  ________

4 I want ticket to be refunded. (demand)

     ________

Show answers

I suggest that you review the booking procedure.

I recommend that you announce delays.

3 I propose (that) you delay your decision.

I demand that ticket be refunded.

Writing Guide

On a recent holiday, you and a group of friends went on a sightseeing bus tour. You were very dissatisfied with the experience. Write a letter to the company saying why you are unhappy and suggest ways in which the tour might be improved.

5. Read the task above and make notes about what you will complain about. Use the ideas below or your own ideas.

itinerary missed out an important place

tour didn’t run on time

tour guide was unenthusiastic / too quiet

no toilet on the bus

Show answers

your own answers

6. Write your letter of complaint.

Extra exercises

Strategy

Learn how to use fixed expressions and phrases that are typical of formal letters, such as letters of complaint.

1. Read the Strategy. Then replace the underlined phrases with the more formal phrases below.

action you intend to take      express strong dissatisfaction

in the circumstances      misleading      refund in full

regret to inform you

1 I am writing to say that I am not satisfied with the trip organised by your travel agency. ________.

2 I am sorry to say to you that the information given by your sales assistant was not true. ________.

3 In this situation, I feel that it would be appropriate for you to give me back the whole of the cost of our hotel stay. ________. ________.

4 Please let me know as soon as possible what you plan to do. ________.

Show answers

express strong dissatisfaction

2 regret to inform you, misleading

In the circumstances, refund in full

action you intend to take

2. Read the task below and write your letter.

You have just come back from a class trip. Unfortunately, the trip did not meet your expectations. Write a letter to the organiser of the trip in which you say why you were dissatisfied with the programme and transport and suggest ways in which the agency could avoid similar problems in the future.