IELTS Complaint Letter

In this lesson we will look at how to write an IELTS complaint letter.

In this type of letter, you are given a situation that you wish to be resolved in some way.

Common examples are bad service at a hotel, shop, restaurant or other place or faulty goods you have bought.

It is common to have to do these two things:

  • Explain the problem
  • Ask how it will be resolved / Suggest how you want it to be resolved

However, remember that there are always THREE tasks you have to address in the letter, so check carefully what they are.

In this case the third task in the IELTS complaint letter is introducing yourself.

Take a look at the question:

You have bought a new camera but when you got it home you found it had some problems. You returned the camera and spoke to the company representative a week ago but the camera has still not been repaired.

Write a letter to the company. In your letter

  • introduce yourself
  • explain the situation
  • say what action you would like the company to take


It is essential that you address the three points you are given. If you do not, you will lose marks for Task Achievement, and your band score may be reduced.

You need to make sure you think of some extra details to support the points.

You don't necessarily have to write the same amount on each point.

You should make sure you give plenty of detail for the second two points, but in this IELTS complaint letter, it is likely you would write less on the first point as there are limits to what you can say if you introduce yourself.

You should write your letter in the same order as the bullet points.

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Register

You must also get the register right in a letter.

This basically means using an appropriate tone to match the purpose of the letter and the person you are writing to.

The register or tone will depend on how formal or informal the letter is. It can be tricky and take some skill to get this right.

A letter of complaint will be a formal letter and so you would use different language and phrases than if you were writing to a good friend for example.

Getting the tone right is important because this can affect your score for Task Achievement.

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Common Phrases for an IELTS Complaint Letter

These are some common phrases you can use in an IELTS complaint letter that will help you to get the right tone:

Reason for writing:

  • I am writing in order to complain about
  • I am writing to complain about
  • I am writing regarding
  • I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with

Introducing the complaint:

  • Topic sentence stating the positive point. + However, + problem….

    Example:

    We thoroughly enjoyed the first week of the holiday. However, after that we experienced a number of problems.

  • I am (extremely) dissatified / dissapointed with the service / goods that I received / bought because

First complaint:

  • Firstly
  • First of all
  • The first problem is / was
  • My first complaint is
  • My first concern is
  • The first thing I would like to draw your attention to is

Further complaints:

  • Secondly
  • Also
  • In addition
  • In addition to this
  • Added to this
  • …… is / was also unsatisfactory / unacceptable
  • Not only ……, but also
  • To make matters worse,
  • Furthermore

Mentioning negative consequences:

  • I'm afraid that…
  • Unfortunately,

Expressing Dissatisfaction:

  • It is not acceptable to / that
  • I am not at all pleased that
  • I am disappointed because

Demanding action:

  • I suggest that you replace the item
  • I therefore suggest that I be given a full refund
  • I would be grateful if my money was refunded
  • I would be grateful if you could give me a full refund
  • I would like to request that
  • To resolve the problem, I would appreciate it if you could

Ending the letter:

  • I look forward to hearing from you
  • I look forward to receiving a full refund
  • I look forward to receiving a replacement
  • I look forward to receiving your explanation
  • I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem
You will need to practice these to make sure you know how to fit them in correctly to your letter as they may all vary slightly depending on the particular context.


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IELTS Complaint Letter Model Answer

Now, take a look at the model answer. Note some of the phrases above which are in bold.

You have bought a new camera but when you got it home you found it had some problems. You returned the camera and spoke to the company representative a week ago but the camera has still not been repaired.

Write a letter to the company. In your letter

  • introduce yourself
  • explain the situation
  • say what action you would like the company to take

You do not need to write any addresses.

Begin your letter as follows:

Dear …,

Dear Sir / Madam,

My name is Mark Roberts and I am writing to you regarding a Nokia camera that I bought at your department store on Sunhill Road, Dewsbury, on the 5th September.

The camera seemed to work fine in the shop. However, upon returning home, it became clear that the shutter mechanism was not functioning properly. In addition to this, there was a small scratch on the lens.

I therefore returned to the shop the following day, on the 6th September, and spoke to a company representative about the issue. I left the camera with the assistant and they assured me that they would look into the problem with a view to repairing the camera and get back to me a few days later.

However, it has now been one week and when I contacted the shop again they said that the camera has still not been fixed and they do not know how long it will be.

As I am sure you will understand, it is not acceptable to be waiting for such a long time for it to be repaired. I would therefore like to request that I be given a full refund should I not receive the repaired camera by the end of this week.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully
Mark Roberts

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Comments

This IELTS complaint letter would achieve a high band score for the following reasons:

Task Achievement

The letter meets all the requirements of the task. The three points have been covered, each point has been extended with further appropriate and relevant information, and the tone is consistent throughout the letter.

Coherence and Cohesion

Paragraphing has been used appropriately, ideas have been organised logically, and cohesion within / between sentences and paragraphs is appropriate.

Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)

Word forms and spellings are all correct. There is a range of vocabulary and the writer collocates well.

Here are some examples of good vocabulary / phrases / collocations for this letter:

  • upon returning
  • shutter mechanism
  • functioning properly
  • assured me
  • with a view to
  • company representative
  • not acceptable to

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In the IELTS complaint letter, there is a mix of simple and complex sentences, and excellent control of grammar and punctuation.

Here are some examples of complexity:

  • ...Nokia camera that I bought...
  • ...upon returning home, it became clear that...
  • ...when I contacted the shop again they said that…
  • As I am sure you will understand, it is...
  • ...request that I be given a full refund should I not…

The past tense has been used correctly to discuss completed actions in the past.



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Letter Samples

Informal

Semi-formal

Formal

Lessons

Opening & Closing a Letter

IELTS Complaint Letter


 




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