Respond to a Complaint While Admitting Fault and Making an Adjustment - Letters

Example Letter #1

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We received your letter of January 1 regarding the duplicate charge to your account. We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the billing. Your account has a zero balance. Thank you for calling this to our attention. You are a valued customer, and we look forward to serving your automotive needs in the future.

Example Letter #2

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I understand how upset you must have been when you discovered that our shipping office sent you the wrong order three days before your sale. Please accept my sincere apologies for that error.

After investigating what caused the mistake, I found that we have two H. Does in our customer files; hence, the shipping office mistakenly sent you the other Mr. H. Doe's order. To ensure that we do not repeat this error, we will always include full first names on all paperwork and double check the account numbers.

Again, I apologize for the inconvenience we caused you. We will give a 15% discount on your next order.

Example Letter #3

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I apologize for your wait in my office before your appointment. I read your letter and I agree: one hour is too long to sit in a waiting room before your dental exam. I have had difficulty with my staff overbooking my appointments. I can't handle the number of patients they schedule and the patients become cranky waiting for their harried dentist. I have corrected the scheduling problem as well as hired two new hygienists who will help with routine exams. We shall have no more long waits at my office.

I value your patronage and comments. Thank you for bringing your frustrations to my attention. Please report on our service in the future.

Example Letter #4

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I am sorry that you had to complain about my lack of service. I dropped the ball in this case and will do everything I can do in the future to prove the value of your business to me. To begin with, I will be at your office next Monday to enroll the new participants. To prevent future oversights, I have reworked my scheduling system so that I won't miss another appointment. Thank you for calling my attention to my error. My service in the future will be much better, I promise.

Letter-Writing Tips

Write this letter as soon as you have received and investigated the complaint. If a customer takes the time to complain, you can probably retain his or her business. It takes less effort to satisfy a current customer than to attract a new one.

Step-by-Step Guide

1 Acknowledge the complaint and express sympathy. Refer to the customer's problem, not to the complaint.

Sentences
  • We are sorry to hear of your dissatisfaction with your new hairdryer.
  • We are sorry your new sewing machine is not working properly.
  • I appreciate your taking the time to write about the poor service you received last Thursday.
  • I appreciate your bringing to my attention the unpleasant experience you had at our restaurant.
  • I fully understand your frustration at not receiving the shipment by June 30.
  • You are quite justified in being upset at receiving no response to your letter of April 5. Our customers deserve better.
  • Thank you for letting me know about the problem you encountered with our service department last week.
  • Thank you for calling our attention to the damage your books received during shipment. It is important that customers report problems promptly so we can correct them.
  • We were very sorry to learn that the toaster you ordered from us was damaged in shipment. Thank you for returning it so promptly.
  • Please accept our apologies for the error in your bill.
Phrases
  • appreciate your willingness to explain the situation to
  • appreciate your frank comments regarding
  • appreciate your letter explaining the problem
  • appreciate your letter expressing dissatisfaction with
  • thank you for letting us know
  • thank you for bringing the problem to my attention
  • glad that you reported the error so promptly
  • glad that you reported your dissatisfaction with
  • glad that you informed me so promptly
  • problem you have experienced with
  • regret learning that your experience was unsatisfactory
  • regret there is a problem with
  • regret that you are experiencing problems with
  • regret that our service was not satisfactory
  • sorry to learn that
  • sorry to learn of your dissatisfaction with
  • thank you for taking the time to write
  • thank you for calling our attention to
  • thank you for your letter expressing dissatisfaction with
  • thank you for informing us of
  • thank you for letting us know

2 Briefly explain how you have looked into the problem and what you are doing to correct it. If you prefer to discuss only how you will correct the problem, go directly to step 3.

Sentences
  • Our accountant has reviewed our billing procedure, and we have made changes to ensure that this type of oversight will not happen again.
  • We have revised our shipping procedure and are confident that this error will not recur.
  • We have discussed your comments with our sales staff and have given them clear guidelines to follow in the future.
  • I have spoken with the packaging crew, and believe that we have corrected the situation.
  • We had not realized that our policy change would be so unpopular, so we have decided to reinstate the former policy.
  • A temporary employee caused the error, but you can rest assured that our quality control is now back to normal.
  • Your pointing out this problem so promptly helped us to deal quickly with a faulty production run. Thank you.
  • Be assured that I will handle the problem immediately. This issue should not come up again.
  • Our staff is trained to handle this situation, but in your case we simply goofed.
Phrases
  • determined the cause of the problem
  • determined the nature of the error
  • determined the source of the misunderstanding regarding
  • determined the cause of the malfunction in
  • determined the origin of the error
  • discussed the problem with
  • discussed your suggestions with
  • expanded our warranty to include
  • expanded our service to include
  • informed our staff of the revised procedure
  • made a thorough investigation
  • quality control personnel have eliminated the
  • revised our policy concerning
  • revised our procedure regarding
  • thoroughly investigated
  • thoroughly reviewed our policy regarding
  • thoroughly reviewed your account history
  • traced the error to
  • traced the problem to
  • traced the misunderstanding to
  • updated our service to cover

3 Explain what you have done or will do to resolve the customer's immediate problem.

Sentences
  • We would be happy to replace the clock, give you a full refund, or credit your account with the amount of the purchase. Please let us know by mail or telephone which of these options you would prefer.
  • Beginning on Friday, we will instruct our staff to use the parking lot at the south end of the building.
  • If you will return the merchandise with the receipt, we will be happy to refund your money or credit your account.
  • Please drop in with your receipt, and I will refund the fifteen percent. If you prefer, mail it to me and I will send you a check.
  • Our repairman makes calls every weekday and will call for an appointment on Monday. If the machine requires more than minor adjustments, we will replace it without charge.
  • You will hear from me as soon as I receive the documents from you.
  • We have shipped your order and enclosed an extra case with our compliments.
  • There will, of course, be no charge for your replacement order.
  • We will replace the product free of charge and pay for your repairs. Please send us the relevant invoices.
  • I am enclosing a corrected invoice.
Phrases
  • adjusted your account
  • corrected the error in
  • credited your account
  • due to the inconvenience you have already experienced
  • due to the unusual circumstances, we would like to offer you
  • enclosed a credit voucher for
  • enclosed a check for the purchase price
  • for your convenience, arranged for
  • in addition, we would like to offer you
  • made an exception to our policy concerning
  • offer you a comparable replacement for
  • replacement order should arrive in
  • requested part is on back order
  • shipped the replacement order
  • since we no longer carry this particular model, we would like to
  • to avoid further delay, we arranged for
  • waived our usual policy regarding
  • will send it by express mail as soon as
  • will replace the product free of charge
  • willing to exchange the defective item
  • willing to extend the warranty covering

4 Close with an expression of good will. You want the customer to focus on the restitution you are making, not on the unpleasant experience they have been through.

Sentences
  • Thank you for helping us improve our service.
  • If this does not prove satisfactory, please do not hesitate to call me personally.
  • Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you.
  • I am sure the machine will give many years of useful service.
  • We appreciate your concern and hope that these actions will be satisfactory.
  • Thank you for bringing the problem to our attention.
  • Thank you for writing. We look forward to welcoming you back as a valued customer.
  • We appreciate your interest in our products and hope to have an opportunity to serve you again.
  • Thank you for giving us an opportunity to correct the situation.
  • We regret the inconvenience this has caused you, but hope you will be pleased with your new power drill.
  • If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.
  • We hope to see you enjoying our hospitality soon.
  • We are sure you will be pleased with your new vacuum cleaner.
Phrases
  • apologize for the misunderstanding
  • apologize for the error
  • appreciate your helpful suggestions for
  • appreciate your frank assessment of the situation
  • appreciate your candor in explaining the problem
  • appreciate your business
  • appreciate your frank comments about
  • appreciate your willingness to discuss
  • committed to your satisfaction
  • dedicated to customer satisfaction
  • happy to be able to correct the situation
  • if I can assist you further, please do not hesitate to
  • if this solution to the problem is not satisfactory, please
  • look forward to serving you again
  • regret any inconvenience
  • thank you for allowing us to correct the error
  • thank you for giving us the opportunity to correct
  • thank you for helping us
  • thank you for bringing the problem to our attention
  • thank you for drawing our attention to
  • trust you will be pleased with
  • trust this will meet with your approval
  • trust you will be pleased with
  • value your patronage

Letter-Writing Resources