Write a Refusal - Letters

Example Letter #1

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Thank you for graciously extending to me an invitation to appear in the closing panel discussion of your Symposium on Race Relations. I'm honored to have been considered for this event, which will undoubtedly draw together a distinguished body of students, scholars, and concerned citizens.

Unfortunately, I am scheduled for surgery two days before the Symposium's opening. And while I've been assured a rapid and full recovery from a routine procedure, I wouldn't want to obligate myself under the circumstances.

For me, being unable sit in the audience is as much a disappointment as not sitting with the panel itself. While I must decline your invitation, I want to convey my sincere hope for the success of this event. To this end, may I suggest Lt. John Doe of the Springfield Police Department as a possible alternate to fill the spot you had reserved for me? John formerly supervised a rehabilitation center for juvenile offenders, has lectured on public policy, and, as a former president of our local chapter of the NAACP, is eminently qualified to contribute to your planned discussion.

Once again, I apologize, but thank you and deem it a great compliment to have received your invitation.

Example Letter #2

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Thank you for your recent submission to Doe Publications. Regrettably, Doe does not publish unsolicited material. We plan our publication months in advance and make topic assignments to the various free-lance and in-house writers in our data base. If you wish to be considered for an assignment in the future, please submit a cover letter and three writing samples. If you meet our criteria, we will add you to our data base.

Thank you for your interest in Doe.

Example Letter #3

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Thank you for applying for the assistant distributor position Doe and Associates has available. Your credentials were strong and impressive. However, a number of highly-qualified candidates applied for the position and we have selected someone with prior managerial experience. Doe frequently advertises openings and we would be pleased to review your resume should something appeal to you in the future. Thank you for your interest in Doe.

Example Letter #4

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Thank you for your application for the John Doe Tuition Scholarship. Each year we have hundreds of students apply for the scholarship, and your outstanding academic record placed you among the finalists. Much to our regret, we could only choose one student and we awarded the slot to someone with more breadth in extracurricular activities.

In your letter of application you mentioned that you have begun to volunteer at several organizations to increase your opportunities for on-the-job experience. This would enhance your application greatly. We encourage you to reapply for next year's slot, and wish you the best of luck in your academic career.

Letter-Writing Tips

Your focus should be as much on being tactful as on refusing. When carefully written, this letter notifies your reader of your refusal in such a way that it retains the reader's good will.

Step-by-Step Guide

1 Begin by establishing a positive tone.

Sentences
  • Thank you for your interest in Doe Products.
  • Thank you for your letter regarding our policy on returning merchandise.
  • We appreciate your invitation to sponsor your upcoming five kilometer (5K) race.
  • We agree that it is frustrating to receive Doe's Weed Killer three weeks after placing your order. Thank you for your suggestion on expediting the shipment.
  • Thank you for your application to our summer internship program.
  • Your desire to establish credit is commendable.
  • I appreciate your thoughtfulness in offering me season tickets to the ballet.
  • We appreciate the time and effort you put into your recent bid on our mall project.
  • Thank you for notifying us about your problem installing the new software on your hard drive.
  • Your application for full-time employment showed your impressive teaching skills.
  • Thank you for the offer you sent me today to be the line supervisor.
Phrases
  • agree that it is frustrating
  • appreciate your thoughtfulness
  • appreciate the time and effort
  • appreciate your invitation
  • appreciate your asking us to participate
  • be happy to comply with your request
  • enclosing a tally of the monthly
  • expediting the shipment
  • giving us the opportunity to consider
  • like your approach to
  • pleased that you thought of us as a source
  • policy on returning
  • recent bid on our project
  • regarding your problem with installing
  • showed your impressive skills
  • sponsor the upcoming
  • thank you for notifying us
  • thank you for your letter
  • thank you for the offer you sent
  • thank you for your suggestion
  • thank you for your application
  • thank you for your recent request
  • thank you for your interest
  • weeks after placing your order
  • your application for
  • your desire to establish

2 Present, if possible, a short explanation of why you are unable to comply with the reader's request. Make your refusal brief but clear.

Sentences
  • Since Doe Products is a privately held corporation, we do not provide information to the public on our corporate earnings.
  • Although your suggestion that we hire another employee to process returns has merit, our budget currently does not allow for hiring another employee. For now, we have no alternative but to make do with the three employees we currently have in the orders department.
  • Because of our company by-laws, we are barred from making contributions to for-profit events. Thus, it is not possible for us to sponsor your race.
  • Because of postal regulations, we are unable to send the weed killer through the mail. Therefore, we must rely on Doe's own shipping fleet, which means that delivery is slower than we would like.
  • Although your qualifications impress us, your application arrived after the deadline, and we have already made summer hiring decisions.
  • However, in order to be eligible for a Doe's card, applicants must have at least one credit card on which their account has been kept up to date during the last six months. We regret that we cannot issue you a Doe's card until you have met this requirement.
  • Because I am your supervisor, accepting the tickets would place us both in an awkward position. I must regretfully decline such a gift.
  • However, scholarly publication is also an essential factor in our hiring decisions. We therefore have chosen a candidate who has published in several journals.
  • After touring your facility with you last week, I have decided to stay with a smaller company where my job description will include a greater diversity of tasks and responsibilities.
Phrases
  • account has been kept up to date
  • after touring your facility with you
  • although your qualifications would make you very useful
  • although your suggestion
  • applicants must have at least one credit card
  • application arrived after the deadline
  • barred from making contributions to for-profit events
  • because I am your supervisor
  • because of our company by-laws
  • because of postal regulations
  • current employees are able to
  • decisions on hiring for the summer
  • delivery is slower than we would like
  • do not provide information to the public
  • do not have enough information
  • do not have a position open that fits your qualifications
  • does not meet our requirements
  • hate to decline granting your
  • have decided to stay with a smaller company
  • have chosen a candidate who
  • have no alternative but to make do
  • in order to be eligible for
  • it is not possible to sponsor your
  • must regretfully decline such a gift
  • must decline this opportunity
  • our budget currently does not allow
  • regret declining this opportunity to help
  • regret that we cannot issue you a
  • since this is a privately held corporation
  • sorry to inform you that we cannot supply
  • unable to send the product
  • until you have met this requirement
  • would place us both in an awkward position

3 Suggest an alternate plan, if possible.

Sentences
  • I am enclosing our company brochure, which provides the information we do make public.
  • Have you considered requesting sponsorship from the local merchants whose businesses lie along the proposed route of the race?
  • If the three of you would like to propose a different division of labor within the orders department, the board would be happy to consider such a proposal.
  • In the meantime, I hope you will take advantage of our great sales and our lay-away plan.
  • However, there are two options you can choose from to speed up your delivery. First, for a fee of $3.00, we offer a rush shipment, guaranteed to arrive in five working days. Second, credit card orders are shipped the day they are received. Thus, if you place a rush order on Monday with your credit card, the weed killer will arrive by Friday.
  • If you would like to apply for next summer, we would be happy to consider your application after January 1.
  • I hope you will consider teaching for us part-time this next year. If you would like, our publications committee could help publish some of your work. With some publications to your credit, your application for a future full-time position will be much stronger.
Phrases
  • am enclosing our company brochure
  • application for any new full-time position would be much stronger
  • are interested in your proposed
  • credit card orders are shipped the day they are received
  • different division of labor within the department
  • guaranteed to arrive in five working days
  • have you considered requesting sponsorship
  • have you thought of asking
  • hope you will consider teaching for us part-time this year
  • hope you will take advantage of
  • if you would like to apply for next summer
  • if you placed a rush order
  • if you would like to propose
  • make plans to publish some of your work
  • may I suggest you write directly to
  • need additional information from you
  • offer a rush shipment
  • our great sales and our lay-away plan
  • provides the information we do make public
  • sure they would be able to help
  • the board would be happy to consider such a proposal
  • there are two options you can choose from
  • to help you now, may we suggest
  • with some publications to your credit
  • would be happy to consider your application
  • would like to meet with our publications committee

4 Close on a positive note.

Sentences
  • Thank you, again, for your interest.
  • We wish you every success with your race.
  • We look forward to hearing from you again.
  • Thank you for thinking of me.
  • We appreciate your interest in our summer internship program and look forward to hearing from you again.
  • We very much appreciate your interest in Doe's and the time you have taken to express your concerns.
  • I appreciate your kind thought.
Phrases
  • appreciate the time you have taken
  • appreciate your considering
  • appreciate your interest in
  • are interested in your proposed
  • could give you more detailed information
  • hope you will continue to pursue
  • know you will find a suitable position soon
  • look forward to hearing from you again
  • perhaps we can help you in another way
  • thank you for taking the time
  • thank you for expressing your concerns
  • thank you for thinking of me
  • thank you for your confidence in
  • thank you again for your interest
  • thank you for the opportunity to be of service
  • will be glad to receive other ideas
  • wish you the very best
  • wish you every success
  • wish you continued success

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