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CAE/CPE Writing: Formal Letter of Complaint – Task + Phrase Sheet (UPDATED 2022)

Resultat d'imatges de complaint

Image credit: Durham Constabulary

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This is a phrase sheet and writing task for CAE/CPE students designed to help them tackle formal letter of complaint tasks. It was brought to my attention that the original version of this phrase sheet contained a number of expressions that were inappropriate for the level of formality required for this type of task. As a result, I have made some changes. Download the new handout below:

letter-of-complaint-phrase-sheet UPDATE 2022

C1 Advanced/C2 Proficiency – Letter of Complaint – UPDATE 2022

Task – CPE Testbuilder page 91

You recently stayed at one of a chain of large hotels and encountered a number of problems during your stay. Write a letter to the company’s head office detailing the problems you had, describing what happened when you complained to the hotel staff and suggesting ways the company could improve its service. (CAE 220-260 words – CPE 280-320 words)

Opening

  • Dear Sir or Madam, / To whom it may concern,
  • I am writing to express my disappointment with/dissatisfaction with the service I received in…
  • I would like to lodge a formal complaint against your company for the reasons outlined below:
  • I feel compelled to write to you in order to describe the woefully inadequate service at…

Listing Problems

  • First of all,
  • Not only was there a hair in my wife’s soup, but the main course also arrived cold.
  • On top of that…
  • As if that was not enough…
  • What is more, …
  • In addition to this, …

Complaining Expressions

  • The standard of the… was severely lacking.
  • The… was not up to the expected standard.
  • The… left a lot to be desired.
  • The… failed to live up to our expectations/fell well short of our expectations.
  • We were left bitterly disappointed by…
  • The quality of the customer service we received was woefully inadequate.
  • The… was an absolute disgrace/absolutely disgraceful (v.strong)
  • Overall, our visit to your (restaurant) was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
  • As a result of the …., we were forced to ….

Emphatic Language – Inversions & Cleft Sentences

  • No sooner had we …. than ….
  • What I found most disappointing was….
  • So poor was the …. that ….
  • At no time were we….
  • Never before have I seen/experienced/etc.
  • Had I know that ….., I would not have ….

Requesting Action

  • It seems only fair that you should… (offer a full refund)
  • I would appreciate it if you…
  • I would be grateful if you…
  • Should these demands not be met, I will be left with no choice but to take legal action.
  • I expect to receive compensation to the tune of (€2000) for the…

Making Recommendations

  • I strongly recommend that your organisation…
  • It would be advisable to…
  • I suggest re-evaluating your procedures regarding…
  • Were your company to …., customer satisfaction would undoubtedly increase.

Sign off

  • I look forward to receiving your reply.
  • I expect to receive a prompt reply to this letter.
  • Yours faithfully,

Author:

Barcelona based English Teacher, blogger and sometime actor and director.

3 thoughts on “CAE/CPE Writing: Formal Letter of Complaint – Task + Phrase Sheet (UPDATED 2022)

  1. This is just amazing. I don’t understand how come you there are not hundreds of comments here if the information given here is pure gold.

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