Respond to a Complaint While Avoiding Agreement or Denying Liability, and Refusing to Make an Adjustment

Letter #1


We have just received your letter regarding a broken screen door glass. We are sorry for your misfortune, but because the glass was broken during installation, we cannot accept responsibility.

Customers who pay for our delivery and installation are entitled to reimbursement for such damages, but our records show that you chose to do your own installation. We do have replacement glass, which we will sell at a reduced rate of $20. For an additional $10 we will install it. We value your business and will be pleased to help.

Letter #2


I understand the disappointment you must have felt when you realized that you couldn't remove that grape juice stain from your new rug. I hope you can understand my position when I must deny your request for a free replacement, because I cannot be responsible for what happened to the rug after it left the store.

May I suggest that you take it to Doe Cleaners at 1600 Main Street. I understand they have a new process for cleaning small rugs. I believe they will be able to make it look like new again. Thank you for your understanding.

Letter #3


We understand that it must be disappointing to lose your layaway down payment of 15%. However, the sign over the cashier's desk clearly detailed the layaway deposit policy as did the layaway receipt which you signed. Our store policy requires that all returned layaway merchandise is subject to forfeiture of the 15% deposit. If you care to purchase the merchandise, we will credit your purchase with 15%. We simply cannot keep merchandise in storage for eight weeks and forfeit the opportunity to sell it to other customers. We anticipate serving your shopping needs in the future and hope to hear from you soon.

Letter #4


I just read your letter complaining about the investment return you received on the Doe Mid-Cap Fund. It is frustrating when expectations are not met. However, as I explained when you first purchased the Mid-Cap Fund, it is an extremely aggressive investment, subject to market fluctuation, and not for the faint of heart; consequently, I cannot refund your investment at this time. I suggest that you either hold on to the investment until it rebounds or shift the remainder of your investment to a safer fund. If you wish to examine these alternatives, give me a call. I appreciate your business and hope we can continue to work together.

How to Write this Response Letter: Expert Tips and Guidelines

Explain why you cannot grant the request, and at the same time seek to retain the customer's business and good will. The denial will probably disappoint the customer, so be tactful.


  1. Acknowledge the customer's problem and show that you understand his or her point of view.
  2. Explain the facts and reasoning that led to your decision, then state your decision.
  3. Suggest appropriate action to resolve the customer's difficulty.
  4. Close with a positive statement expressing good will and the assurance that you value the customer's business.

Write Your response in Minutes: Easy Step-by-Step Guide with Sample Sentences and Phrases

1 Acknowledge the customer's problem and show that you understand his or her point of view.

Sample Sentences for Step 1

  • We understand how important your refrigerator is to your household, so we dispatched our serviceman, John Doe, as soon as you reported your difficulty.
  • Thank you for your note about your tulips. It must have been very frustrating for you when they failed to bloom this spring.
  • I understand your frustration with the recent increase in our shipping charges.
  • I am sorry you are having problems with your four-year-old
    washing machine.
  • I understand your distress at the rudeness you experienced at our recent sale, and I am sorry.
  • I appreciate that one does simply "change one's mind" sometimes, and I am sorry that the towels we sent you no longer harmonize with your bathroom color scheme.
  • I received your letter expressing concern about the price we charged for the porcelain dolls you ordered June 8.
  • We were sorry to hear that the six cases of crystal glassware we shipped to you arrived so late.

Key Phrases for Step 1

  • after our telephone conversation
  • concerning work we performed for you
  • disappointment with the product's performance
  • fully appreciate your patience and desire to work with us
  • have your August 9 letter about invoices for
  • have received your request for an extension
  • have completed a thorough investigation of the situation
  • know how infuriating Murphy's Law can be
  • must be experiencing a lot of frustration
  • not difficult to understand your comments regarding
  • received your letter asking us to investigate
  • recent letter expressed disappointment regarding
  • regarding the concerns you expressed to me about
  • regret the unfortunate incident with
  • regret the misunderstanding that
  • sent our repairman immediately to check out the difficulty
  • simplest transaction becomes complex when a misunderstanding
  • sorry to hear that your Doe oven is malfunctioning
  • sorry that you are having trouble with your
  • thank you for bringing your problem to our attention
  • our representatives have completed their review of your
  • when we heard you were having trouble with your new
2 Explain the facts and reasoning that led to your decision, then state your decision.

Sample Sentences for Step 2

  • Our technician checked your refrigerator and found that a previous adjustment had resulted in a short circuit, necessitating the replacement of the entire compressor. You mentioned to him that your brother-in-law had just serviced the refrigerator "to save electricity." I am afraid the unauthorized work voided the warrantee. This provision is explained in the "Use and Care" guide and on the warranty card.
  • From your description of the leaves, it appears that the tulip bulbs themselves are not faulty, but that the deer in your area are eating them. Of course we cannot be responsible for that kind of damage.
  • If you check your shipping label, you will notice that we are actually subsidizing the freight slightly. We wish we did not have to charge for shipping at all, but unfortunately the small mark-up on our products does not permit us to absorb the entire charge.
  • I wish we could repair the machine without charge, but the warranty, one of the best around, extends for only two years from the date of installation.
  • Although we do keep security people near the entrances to our store, we cannot prevent ill-mannered people from entering. All we can do is intercede if there is a problem.
  • Unfortunately, we cannot accept returns of monogrammed goods unless they are defective in material or workmanship. Please note the policy printed in the catalog and on the order form.
  • Clearly the window needs to be replaced, but in terms of your lease, you are responsible for damage to the property, whether caused by yourself or by your guests. I cannot, therefore, comply with your request that I replace the window.
  • I checked your order, and it appears that the misunderstanding came about because the special discount applied only to orders of fifty or more dolls. You ordered forty-eight dolls, and, therefore, did not qualify for the lower price.
  • Our records show that we shipped the glassware on Aug 18, within 48 hours of receiving your order. It appears, therefore, that someone else may be responsible for the delay.

Key Phrases for Step 2

  • although we do have a contractual agreement to market
  • although there is the temptation to make an exception
  • as soon as I was aware there might be a problem
  • because the terms of our agreement were not met
  • can only suggest that
  • cannot replace the equipment
  • cannot show partiality to one customer
  • completed a thorough investigation of the situation
  • detailed installation instructions and operating procedures
  • emphasize the importance of following the instruction booklet
  • found the error not to be with our organization
  • free support service provided with purchase must fall within
  • guarantee only machines repaired by authorized dealers
  • have no legally acceptable way to provide you with
  • in your owner's manual on page
  • make sure the warranty terms are clearly understood
  • merchandise was received at your address and signed for by
  • must have occurred after delivery to your site
  • must decline to offer the discount
  • no other explanation about the damage
  • not covered under the warranty
  • not responsible for ongoing maintenance or billing statements
  • our laboratory analysis and that of an outside expert indicated
  • our inspector tells me that
  • please note in the first paragraph of the contract letter
  • see no easy answers to the dilemma
  • such damage is not ordinary wear and tear
  • warning label states
  • would simply not be fair to others involved
  • would have to bill you for such repairs
3 Suggest appropriate action to resolve the customer's difficulty.

Sample Sentences for Step 3

  • We will be happy to replace the compressor for you, but regret that we cannot do it free of charge. The new compressor will have the same two-year warranty as the original.
  • We recommend that you take steps to protect your bulbs from the deer, especially in early spring. If you can protect them adequately, you should see fine blooms next spring. Otherwise, we have an excellent range of daffodil bulbs, which the deer tend to ignore.
  • If, however, you compare our shipping charges with those of other mail houses, we are sure you will agree that Doe Corporation gives you the best products at the lowest total cost.
  • If you will contact your nearest Doe dealer, I am confident that a technician will repair your washing machine to your satisfaction.
  • I hope that you will give us another try. We value your business and look forward to serving you again.
  • It appears appropriate that your cousin pay for the repair.
  • If you would care to order two more dolls before the sale ends on August 5, we will be happy to adjust the price for the whole order. You would, however, incur the regular shipping and insurance charges for the extra shipment.
  • I am enclosing a copy of the bill of lading to make it easier for you to pursue this matter with them.

Key Phrases for Step 3

  • attached is a list of companies in your area
  • can continue investigating the problem
  • continue to look into the reasons for any similar delays
  • enclosed is a copy of our company's
  • estimate that the repairs will cost
  • find new ways to emphasize to our customers
  • for any length of time you desire
  • give you the names of qualified service technicians
  • have gone as far as we can go on the customer's behalf
  • help you implement any of the alternatives outlined above
  • hope you can understand why we cannot
  • if there are other circumstances of which we are unaware
  • importance of following these procedures
  • let us know what other actions you would like us to take
  • no problem in extending our support service to you
  • forwarding the information about your problem to
  • plan outlined above will prevent future problems
  • please call your local dealer
  • please send us a color swatch for our consultants to analyze
  • possible preventative measures for future
  • provide you with this service
  • provide more concrete evidence of the problem and its cause
  • should we repair it and send the bill
  • simply discard the merchandise
  • taken the liberty of enclosing an extension agreement
  • will be happy to repair it at a cost of
  • would have to bill you for such repairs
4 Close with a positive statement expressing good will and the assurance that you value the customer's business.

Sample Sentences for Step 4

  • We look forward to hearing from you and trust that you will enjoy many trouble-free years with your refrigerator.
  • We are enclosing a coupon for 10% off your next order from our catalog.
  • I am enclosing our latest catalog and look forward to your next order.
  • I am sure that this and other Doe appliances will continue to serve you well in the future.
  • I apologize for the inconvenience our policy has caused you, but I trust you understand the reasoning behind it.
  • I am sorry that I must disappoint you, but I am sure you understand my position. Thank you for your cooperation in this
  • Thanks for your business. We value you as a customer.
  • We value our relationship with you, and we want to be fair, but we must treat all our customers the same.
  • Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Key Phrases for Step 4

  • appreciate your taking the time to write
  • can depend on me to put your best interest ahead
  • could adversely affect good relations with our customers
  • do everything possible to keep our customers satisfied
  • enclosing a certificate for a $5 discount on your next purchase
  • hope we can continue to serve you in the future
  • hope you will enjoy many productive years with the equipment
  • hope this response does not impair our
  • hope this is helpful
  • hope you are enjoying the equipment and benefiting from
  • look forward to your giving us another opportunity to serve you
  • look forward to seeing you again
  • please do not hesitate to contact me
  • thank you for purchasing our products
  • thank you for discussing the matter with us
  • thank you for giving us an opportunity to explain our position
  • think you will understand our position
  • value you as a customer
  • value your good will
  • value your business
  • want to continue to serve you in the future
  • want to continue doing business with you
  • will certainly want to do whatever is appropriate
  • wish you the best in resolving this matter