Unit 1. Writing Letters to Complain.

How to study this section:

  • Read the focus question and watch the videos to learn how to get a high band score.
  • After you complete the vocabulary section, try to write a letter yourself.
  • Send your writing for correction and feedback to see how well you are doing.

Focus Question 1.  Hotel Accommodation.

Dear Sir or Madam,


My name is Mr. Alan White, and I am writing to complain about my experience when I visited your hotel last week (April 12th to 15th) due to the failure of the air-conditioning system.


I booked room 5012, which is on the fifth floor, and although I had planned to stay for three days for a business conference, my trip was cut short because the air-conditioning broke down.


To begin with, the air-conditioning was really noisy, so this made it difficult to sleep, and I could not switch it off because the weather had been really hot that evening. Later, the system stopped working altogether, which was terrible because it prevented me from getting any sleep. This was very inconvenient and not what I expect from a five-star hotel. As a result, I missed my business meeting and had to postpone my arrangements.


In view of the aforementioned circumstances, I feel quite aggrieved because I paid for three nights accommodation for nothing! Therefore, I believe that as manager of the hotel, the very least you can do to redress my complaint is to provide a full refund to my credit card.


I look forward to a prompt refund and any response you feel is appropriate.


Yours faithfully,

Mr. Alan White.

Practice Task 1. A Noisy Neighbour. 

Dear Mr. Brown,


My name is Alan Smith, and I'm writing to complain about excessive noise coming from the apartment above mine, which is quite intolerable.


As you will know, I live in flat four on the second floor and have now lived in Tower Park for over twelve years. I think you also know that I am a quiet tenant and have always been respectful to my neighbours, so I do not make trivial complaints.


The cause of my complaint is the unbearable noise caused by the new tenant, who is renovating flat four on the third floor. However, the noise is quite unacceptable because it is preventing me from getting a decent night's rest. This is a serious problem for me because I work as a postal worker, so I have to get up very early for work. Furthermore, I have two young children, who are also being deprived of a good night's sleep.


I feel quite aggrieved by this, and as manager of the building I expect you to contact the new tenant. Please explain to the new tenant the rules that prohibit renovation work after 6.pm, which is only fair since there are other people in the building who need to be considered.


I hope this unfortunate situation can be resolved quickly so that we can get a good night's sleep again. Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.


Yours sincerely,

Mr. Alan Smith.


Practice Task 2.  A Faulty Camera & Bad Service.

Dear Sir or Madam,


I am writing to complain in relation to a faulty camera that I bought at your shop, Camera Line, last Saturday 12th May, which cost $899.00 in the sale.


The reasons for my complaint are two-fold. To start with, I had expected to get a top quality camera because the model I bought was a Canon P600, which is the latest model for taking digital videos in high definition. However, when I got the camera home, it failed to record properly, which was very disappointing because I work as a photographer, so it negatively impacted my work. Secondly, I have to lodge my extreme displeasure with the attitude of the female sales clerk. In fact, when I tried to return the defective camera, not only was she discourteous in her manner, but she failed to provide me with a full refund, which is my statutory right.


In view of the above circumstances, I expect you as manager of the shop, to offer me a complete refund. I also recommend that your sales staff receive some much needed training in customer service. 


I sincerely hope that you will take my complaint seriously as I am a long-standing customer at your shop.


Yours faithfully,

Mr. Alan Smith.

Practice Task 3.  An Annoying Student Room Mate.

Dear Sir or Madam,


My name is Alan Young, and I am writing this letter to lodge a complaint in relation to my current living situation, which is not to my satisfaction due to an incompatible room-mate. I am living in Digby House where I share room 12 on the third floor with Paul Brookes, who is a noisy music student. 


To begin with, Paul has a busy social life, which often results in him and his band mates continuing their partying back at our room when I am trying to either study or sleep. Despite my objections to this anti-social behaviour, Paul just ignores my protests and carries on regardless. Also, if Paul wants to use something belonging to me, he never hesitates to ask, which I find disrespectful. Not surprisingly, this situation is causing me a great deal of stress, which could cause me to fail my exams.


In view these issues, I would like you (as student supervisor) to re-house me with a room-mate who is quieter and more serious about studying. 


I hope you can re-house me as soon as possible as we have exams in six weeks. Thank you in advance for considering my request. 


Yours faithfully,

Mr. Alan Young.



Practice Task 4. Plans for a New Building Development.

Dear Sir or Madam,


As a local resident, I am writing to complain about the decision of your office to allow planning consent for a modern housing project to go ahead in Saxondale Village.


My name is Mr. Alan Wells, and I have lived my whole life at 20 Yew-Tree Lane, which is only half a mile from the proposed new development site.


Let me explain clearly why I object: First of all, as someone who has lived here for over fifty years, I know that this development would cause irrevocable damage to the historical character and local wildlife of the area. Also, I believe this development is forbidden under the local protection laws that restrict new buildings to use traditional materials and design. Further, the village does not have sufficient roads, schools, medical services or even parking facilities to accommodate such a sudden increase in population.


In view of the grievances I have outlined above, I hope you will reconsider and reverse the decision to approve planning, which will otherwise ruin the tranquil, peaceful atmosphere of our village.


Thank you in advance for considering my objections. I look forward to hearing from you.


Your sincerely,


Mr. Alan Wells.

Practice Test 5.  Letter of Complaint.

 Vocabulary · a recalled product: a defective product that is taken off the market ·malfunctions: failures in operation · faulty: defective · apology: an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret e.g. public apology · annoyance: Being bothered by something or someone e.g. She expressed annoyance at the slow service ·dissatisfaction: a feeling of unhappiness or disapproval, e.g. She expressed her dissatisfaction with the service Letters of Complaint Useful Phrases and Vocabulary · satisfaction: a happy or pleased feeling because of something that you did or something that happened to you ·attitude: the way you think and feel about someone or something · quality: how good or bad something is · to portray: to describe (someone or something) in a particular way ·incompetence: lack of the ability to do something well · to attend to: to give needed help or attention to (someone or something) · severe: very bad, serious, or unpleasant · to compensate: to give money or something else of value to (someone) in return for something ·to demand: to require (something) · hazardous: dangerous · a lawn mower: a machine used for cutting the grass on lawns · assembly: the act of connecting together the parts of something (such as a machine) · to chuckle: to laugh in a quiet way · a welded edge: to join pieces of metal together by heating the edges until they begin to melt and then pressing them together · a coupler: something combined with something else · to misuse: to use (something) incorrectly · hassle: to bother or annoy (someone) constantly or repeatedly

Common Expressions.

Opening a letter of complaint.

Introducing your complaint.

- I am writing this letter to protest about the plan to ...

- I am writing this letter to express my disappointment in relation to the proposal to ...

- I am sorry to have to inform you of the following unfortunate situation:  Last week when I visited your ...

- I am writing to express my unhappiness about your decision / plans to ...

- I am writing to make clear / to lodge my displeasure (show my irritation / frustration)  at your plans to ...

- I am sorry to have to complain in relation to the following unfortunate situation, which occurred at your ...

- I am writing in connection with an unfortunate experience I had when I visited your store / business etc...

- I am writing this letter to bring to your attention my disapproval of  your decision / proposal to ...

- I am writing this letter to complain about an incident that happened on (date) at (time) at (place)

- I am writing this letter to express my dissatisfaction with the poor service I experienced when I ...

- I am writing in connection with ...


Developing your complaint.

- The reasons for my complaint / objections are three-fold: First of all, ... Also, ... In addition, ...

- Unfortunately, I found the standard of professionalism and workmanship to fall well below what I had come to consider to be an acceptable level in regard to ...

- I am very disappointed with the poor standard(s) of service / workmanship / professionalism I encountered when I visited your ...

- Something that I feel particularly aggrieved about is that ...

- Another source of real dissatisfaction is that ...

- This was not what I had expected.  In fact, it is quite the opposite; 

- Although, according to your staff, I should have got / the product should have / the service should have included, in fact it fell short of this expectation...

- Notwithstanding the fact that I was assured by your sales assistant / employee that ...

- On using your service / product, I was quite surprised to discover that, despite being assured by your company employees that it would work perfectly, when I got it home, in fact the product failed to ...




Asking the recipient to take action:

- I sincerely hope that you will take my complaint seriously

- I trust you will take appropriate action to remedy this situation in the immediate future so that we can put this unfortunate incident / event(s) behind us.

- I am fully confident that we can overcome this unfortunate situation and come to a mutually agreeable resolution.  I trust it would not be inconvenient for you to now act to redress this problem by ...

- I would be sincerely grateful if you could ...

- I hope you will give your immediate attention to this matter...

- I fully anticipate that you will take remedial steps to resolve this matter to our mutual satisfaction.  I therefore expect you to ...

- In view of these circumstances, I trust you will see that it would be unfair if I were not given some kind of compensation for my loss / inconvenience ... Therefore, it only seems fair that you provide me with ...

- As a valued customer, I fully expect that you will provide me with ...


- In order to satisfactorily address my grievance, I feel that what would be fair (what would suit me best) would be if you were to ...