Notify a Customer That a Shipment Has Been Delayed or That Merchandise Ordered Is Not Available • Example Letters, Guides and Samples


Customers should always be told as soon as possible if you cannot ship an order on time. Unless you cannot ship at all, it is important to give the customer the option of waiting or receiving a refund.

How to write this order letter:

  1. Apologize for your inability to deliver the order.
  2. Discuss the customer's options.
  3. Close with an expression of appreciation or good wishes.

Example Letter #1


We regret that we are unable to send the cherry wood table you ordered from our spring catalog. The demand for this popular item has exceeded our expectations and our stock is depleted. However, the supplier promises delivery of more tables in about six weeks. Please advise us whether you want to cancel your order or have us hold your check and ship the table when it becomes available. We apologize for this inconvenience.

Example Letter #2


I apologize for the delay in filling your order. My china wholesaler is bogged down by a workers' strike, and apparently the problem will not be resolved quickly.

We have access to other patterns of china from different manufacturers if you would like to pursue that possibility. I am enclosing another catalog for your information. Please call me at 555-5555 to discuss your options. Thank you for your understanding.

Example Letter #3


Thank you for your order for Doe Warmer 1000 electric mittens. Unfortunately, the sale you responded to was a closeout, and consequently we are out of the 1000 models. If you wish to wait two weeks, the new Doe Warmer 1500 mitts will be on sale at an introductory low price. If you do not wish to wait, we will gladly return your check. Please call our Hotline at 555-5555 to tell us how you wish to proceed. Your order number is #3456-78. We look forward to hearing from you. Keep warm!

Example Letter #4


We apologize for the delay. Your order has not been shipped due to an unusually heavy snowfall. The trucks are socked in solid until the plows can dig out and start clearing the roads. We will ship just as soon as possible. However, if you wish to cancel your order and receive a refund, please notify us by telephone, at 555-5555. We wish you the very best this holiday season, and we thank you for your years of loyal patronage.

Write Your Letter Step-by-Step

1 Apologize for your inability to deliver the order.

Sample Sentences for Step 1
  • We received your order of March 15, but unfortunately we no longer carry the item you requested. We checked with the manufacturer, who informed us that he no longer makes it.
  • We appreciate your business and your recent order, but regret to say that we cannot supply the part you want.
  • Thank you for your recent order. Unfortunately, our main warehouse was destroyed by fire last week, and we anticipate a three-week delay before we can ship your order.
  • There has been an overwhelming demand for our new porcelain doll, which is on back order.
  • I am sorry to report that we no longer manufacture canisters in the two-quart size.
  • We are very sorry that we will be unable to fill your order for oak bookshelves for another ten days. We have had problems at the lumber mill that have caused delays all the way down the line.
Sample Phrases for Step 1
  • a valued customer
  • always appreciate receiving
  • anticipate a delay
  • anticipate being able to ship
  • apologize for the inconvenience
  • appreciate your business
  • are informed by the manufacturer
  • are very sorry that
  • are unable to supply
  • as soon as possible
  • because of overwhelming demand
  • can no longer provide
  • cannot obtain the part
  • demand has been very heavy
  • do not stock the
  • factory has closed down
  • greatly appreciate
  • is on back order
  • item is not listed in our
  • no longer carry
  • no longer make
  • no longer manufactures
  • no longer keep
  • received your order for
  • regret to report
  • sold out before
  • thank you for
  • unable to fill your order for
  • unavoidable delay
  • will send your order
  • wish we could send it right away, but
  • your recent order

2 Discuss the customer's options.

Sample Sentences for Step 2
  • I would suggest that you contact an antique automobile parts supplier, like Doe Auto Parts in Springfield. A second-hand parts dealer might also be able to help.
  • You may wish to consider the two-liter size, number 5555 in the catalog. It is just a fraction larger than the old two-quart model.
  • We are returning your money order.
  • If you are willing to wait for the shipment, do nothing. If, however, you would prefer to cancel your order, please call our toll-free number 1-800-555-5555, and we will be happy to return your check.
  • Doe Corporation makes a very similar product that may suit your needs. Their phone number is 555-5555.
  • We will send the doll as soon as we receive it, along with a small gift as a token of our appreciation for your patience.
  • Your refund is enclosed.
  • I suggest you call the Doe store in Springfield. I am confident that John can help you.
  • While we no longer carry the pumps you ordered, we do carry a full line of water treatment products and equipment. I have enclosed a copy of our most recent catalog.
  • We will, of course, send it express at no extra charge.
Sample Phrases for Step 2
  • am confident that
  • appreciate your patience
  • are returning your
  • as soon as it arrives
  • as soon as we receive
  • as soon as we are able
  • as a token of
  • call our toll free number
  • consider trying our
  • express your order to
  • if the wait will be inconvenient
  • if you would prefer
  • if you are willing to
  • just let us know
  • makes something similar
  • may I suggest that
  • may meet your needs
  • may wish to consider
  • may work out for you
  • might be able to help
  • might be equally pleased with
  • refund is enclosed
  • send it express
  • should take about
  • suggest that you
  • to cancel your order
  • to choose something else
  • will send your order
  • will ship your
  • will be happy to

3 Close with an expression of appreciation or good wishes.

Sample Sentences for Step 3
  • I am sorry we don't have what you need, but wish you luck in finding it.
  • Thank you for your patience. We appreciate your patronage.
  • Thanks for your order. We hope you will think of us again when you need precision equipment.
  • We hope our suggestion works out for you.
  • I am confident you will find it was worth the wait.
Sample Phrases for Step 3
  • a valued customer
  • am confident that
  • appreciate your patience
  • appreciate your understanding
  • are sure you will be pleased with
  • as soon as they arrive
  • be able to find what you need
  • best wishes for
  • hope you will
  • sorry we are unable to
  • thank you for your patronage
  • thank you so much for
  • thank you for your order
  • thank you for your continued business
  • think of us again
  • this unusual situation
  • this unavoidable delay
  • well worth the wait
  • will rush your order to
  • will let you know
  • wish you luck in