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Unit 8 letters of complaint language practice

1. Note the use of ‘With the exception of …’, and ‘which …’ ‘ We can join these three sentences using them. The merchandise seems to be in good order. No. 9 is not. It contains the wrong type of cabinet.

The merchandise seems to be in good order, with the exception of No. 9, which contains the wrong type of cabinet.

Do the same thing with the following sentences:

  1. The packing cases arrived in good condition. No. 5 did not. It was broken.

  2. The goods arrived safely. The metal tubes did not. They were missing.

  3. The merchandise was shipped on time. The electric light switches were not. They were sent later.

  4. The documents were sent by surface mail. The Certificate of Insurance was not. It was sent by air mail.

  5. Most goods must be sent by ship. Light, small, expensive precision instruments need not. They should be sent by air.

2. Notice how we express contrast:

We ordered 20,000 HB Itex pencils but the crate only contains 12,000.

Crate 17 contained only 12,000 HB Itex pencils, although 20,000 had been entered on both the packing list and the invoice.

Express contrast using the word given:

  1. Ordered 1000 cakes / received only 100 / but

  2. Invoiced for 100 N52 engines / only 85 delivered / but

  3. Not received the replacements / ordered 3 weeks ago / although

  4. Order N6/M7 12 not delivered / MV SATURN docked 8 days ago / although

  5. Wrote 7 weeks ago / not received your latest catalogue / but

3. Note these sentences:

Our agent took delivery of the goods in the port of Oslo on the 29th January 20—. Unfortunately, 127 forks were missing.

Use the word ‘unfortunately to express a mild complaint at the following. The word begins the second sentence in each case.

  1. We received your consignment of electrical equipment. Two cases of transformers were damaged.

  2. We would like to send the goods in one shipment. That is not possible at the moment.

  3. The ship set off on schedule. It was delayed in transit by stormy weather.

  4. The damage was caused by bad packing. The insurance policy doesn’t cover you for this.

  5. We ordered 25 typewriters. Only 20 arrived.

4. Notice how a more serious complaint is expressed.

We regret to inform you that four cases are damaged.

We very much regret to inform you that the quality of the merchandise is unacceptable.

Complain in this way about the following:

  1. Seven boxes are missing.

  2. There has been some pilferage in cases 1 to 5 inclusive.

  3. The padding did not protect the glass bottles.

  4. Case No. 19 was damaged by hooks in the port of Marseilles.

  5. The shipment of men’s suits was delayed in transit.

  6. The quality and design are not up to your usual standard.

  7. Cases 7 and 8 contain the wrong goods.

  8. Only 20 typewriters were despatched, out of an order for 25.

  9. The insurance policy doesn’t cover you for negligent packing.

  10. We cannot accept the surplus cases you consigned.

5. Notice how these phrases are used to suggest politely that the recipient has made a mistake or has been inefficient in some way.

Perhaps your forwarding agent made a mistake?

We assume that your forwarding agent made a mistake.

Use ‘Perhaps’ and ‘We assume that’ to make polite suggestions for these:

  1. You didn’t send the advice of despatch by air mail.

  2. Your packing department received the wrong catalogue reference number.

  3. The S/S Sheppey was delayed in the port of London.

  4. The Bill of Lading was not ‘clean’.

  5. The case was not marked ‘USE NO HOOKS’.

  6. The contents of Case No. 9 were for a different order.

  7. The containers were too light and weak.

  8. Your forwarding agent was unaware of the penalty clause.

  9. The goods were stowed in a hot place on board ship.

  10. Your forwarding agent doesn’t understand French customs regulations.

6. Notice how these sentences express need and reason:

We need the pencils to complete deliveries.

The full consignment is urgently required to complete orders.

Require is more formal thanneed.

Write sentences as directed. Express need and reason:

  1. The 100 new engines / complete our orders

  2. 300 X26 motors / supply our customers

  3. 200 copies of your summer catalogue / send to our agents

  4. The remaining 10 cookers / complete our deliveries

  5. More detailed information / answer customs enquries

7. Notice how these sentences express reason:

We need the pencils. Therefore we must ask you to despatch the additional 8000


The full consignment is urgently required so it is absolutely essential that you ship the additional 8000 pencils.

It is absolutely essential that you ship the additional 8000 pencils because the full consignment is urgently required.

Express reasons using the given information:

  1. You must send the bicycles at once / the bicycles are needed next week / therefore

  2. We will not require any more deliveries of sheet metal after 31 August / we are closing our factory in Northern Italy / so

  3. We have not placed our usual order for garden furniture / we have not received your catalogue this spring / therefore

  4. We are unable to supply you / we have sold all our X27 radios / so

  5. We were unable to send your complete order / we didn’t have all the items in stock / because

8. Notice how this sentence expresses urgent and immediate demands:

We must insist on replacements for the four cases immediately.

We must insist on replacements for the four cases at once.

Use the italicized words and phrases for the following demands:

  1. A despatch of the shipping documents

  2. A visit from your agent

  3. Replacements for the goods in Case No. 4

  4. A consignment of spare parts

  5. A correction of the details printed on the Bill of Lading

  6. A cancellation of the order

  7. A detailed statement of freight and insurance costs

  8. A reply to our complaint about your merchandise

  9. The despatch of a Pro-Forma Invoice

  10. A cable in reply to our enquiry about the advice of despatch

9. Notice how these sentences are used to express obligation:

We must ask you to despatch the additional 8000 pencils.

It is absolutely essential that you ship the additional 8000 pencils.

Express obligation (of another person) for the following:

  1. Air-freighting the additional 2000 cameras by 10 June

  2. Despatching the complete order at once

  3. Replying to our request by return

  4. Explaining the reason for the long delay

  5. Giving a precise delivery date

10. Notice the use of arrange here:

Please arrange for the despatch of replacements at once.

You ask your suppliers to contact others when you ask them to ‘arrange for’ something. Ask suppliers to arrange the following:

  1. The correction of an error in the consignment

  2. The collection of the ten cases at the port of Liverpool

  3. The despatch of the shipping documents as soon as possible

  4. The completion of the customs forms by your Despatch Department

  5. The distribution of copies of our packing instructions to all departments

11. Notice the use of the words concerning and regarding:

We received the documents concerning the above order on the 10th December.

Please inform your forwarding agents regarding customs difficulties.

Concerning’ and ‘regarding’ are very often used in official correspondence instead of the more common word ‘about’. Use these words to connect the following sentences:

  1. We received your letter. It mentioned the Certificate of Insurance.

  2. Inform your agents. Tell them about our packing instructions.

  3. We saw the notice. It was about the new customs regulations.

  4. We received your enquiry. It was about filing cabinets.

  5. Please send instructions. They must tell us about shipment.

  6. We noticed a difficulty. It was about unloading.

  7. We received your instructions. They were about methods of payment.

  8. Please send information. It should tell us about marks and numbers.

  9. We received the documents. They were about shipping arrangements.

  10. Please notice the regulations. They are about the new customs documents.

Exercise 82. Insert the correct words in the appropriate spaces in the passage below.

cancel inferior packing list replacements

discount investigate penalty clause unsaleable

discrepancy negligence quantity up to standard

Complaints are often received by companies who ship consignments overseas. These complaints are sometimes about the (1) …… of goods received. Perhaps not enough goods were sent, perhaps too many. And sometimes it is a complaint that the wrong goods were sent.

Often there are complaints about (2) …… packing, which can cause damage to the goods. Sometimes the complaint is about inferior quality. Buyers in this case often complain that the goods are not (3) …… . There may be a (4) …… between the description of the goods in the brochure and the goods which actually arrived.

A complaint may be about a delay in shipment, although companies often have a (5) …… in their contract to protect them against loss from delay.

Complaints about damage are usually the business of insurance companies, but if the damage is caused by the (6) …… of the packers, then the insurance companies will not accept responsibility.

When there is a complaint that the wrong goods were sent, or too many, or too few, then it is always necessary to check the (7) …… for the cases, as well as the invoice. Then the agent must (8) …… what happened. The goods may still be in the port of loading. But the buyer cannot wait for the agent’s report. He usually insists on (9) …… as soon as possible.

Bad, inferior or inadequate packing may cause damage to goods in transit. The buyers may accept damaged goods if the supplier offers a (10) …… but if the goods are badly damaged they may be (11) …… and in this case the buyer will demand replacements.

If the delay is very long the buyer may (12) …… the order, and there may be great loss to both suppliers and buyers.

Exercise 83. Use the a, or the, or leave the space blank in this letter of complaint.

Viale Bracci

1-61001 Siena

15 June 20 —

The Sales Manager

Nihon Instruments

12-18 Wakakusa-cho




Dear Mr Toda

AWB 4156/67

We are writing to point out that … above delivery, which arrived yesterday, was … week late. This is … second time we have had to write on this subject, and we cannot allow … situation to continue. We have already explained that it is essential for … medical equipment to arrive on … due date as … late delivery could create … very serious problem.

Exercise 84. Insert the correct phrases in the letter below.

at once in accordance with on board

by return in good condition on condition that

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