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

How to write this letter:

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


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.

Example 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.

Example 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.

Example 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.

Example 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.

Write Your Letter Step-by-Step


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

Example Sentences for Step 1

Example Phrases for Step 1


Explain the facts and reasoning that led to your decision, then state your decision.

Example 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.

Example Phrases for Step 2


Suggest appropriate action to resolve the customer's difficulty.

Example Sentences for Step 3

Example Phrases for Step 3


Close with a positive statement expressing good will and the assurance that you value the customer's business.

Example Sentences for Step 4

Example Phrases for Step 4