Business English – Complaints(IV). Responding negatively to complaint

Responding Negatively to request or complaint

The way that you write a negative response is important. It depends on the situation and your relationship with the writer. Your response should be indirect. To Be very indirect if the writer is important to you or if the situations is difficult, as with legal problem. You can be more if the writer expects a negative response e.g., in a job search.


1.   Use these phrases for complaints or requests that you can not fill. It´s important to show that you understand the person´s problem.

2.   State the action you will take or the reason why you can not accommodate the request.

Ex. I am sorry to say that we no longer offer tours.

We are sorry to hear that you are having difficulties with our product.

I understand the difficulty this has caused your company. Unfortunately, however, our building was damaged in the February earthquake, and we were unable to start the repairs until last week.

 3.   If possible, include a positive statement, reasons for the negative response, or an apology.

We usually carry these items. However, we sold out over the holidays. I´m afraid that we will not have any available until next month. We will send them as soon as they come in.

I apologize for any inconvenience that you have experienced.

4.   Use any of these phrases for general responses.

I am sorry that we cannot accommodate your request.

Unfortunately, we are not able to refund your money.

I regret to inform you that we are unable to give you a full refund.

 5.   End the letter with a friendly tone, if possible.

Note: I´m afraid that has a different meaning from I´m afraid to. It means “I am sorry to tell you”.

 You may find that your local dealership will be able to help you with this problem.

I hope that we will be able to help you with your next project.

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