In complaining, the key question to ask is ‘What do I hope to achieve from this complaint?’ There is no point instantly venting your anger if it doesn’t produce a result. Very often, it helps to get the person you are dealing with on your side. For this reason, people are often taught to being any complaint with some sort of mild apology.
For example, ‘I’m sorry to say this but…’, ‘I’m afraid I must tell you that…’
In English there are a number of formulas used when complaining. It’s important to remember that a direct complaint or criticism in English can sound rude or aggressive. It’s best to mention a problem in an indirect manner. Here are some of the most commonly used starters to make complaints:
I’m sorry to have to say this, but….
I’m sorry to bother you, but….
Maybe you forgot to….
I think you might have forgotten to….
Excuse me if I’m out of line, but…
There may have been a misunderstanding about….
Don’t get me wrong, but I think we should….
To express your complaint, use the following word groups with suitable starters mentioned in Section B, above:
I’m sorry to have to say this, but I think we need to take another approach.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but you’re making fun of me.
I’m sorry to bother you, but I think you need to refine this layout.
Maybe you forgot to include his name and number.
I think you might have forgotten to finish the report on time.
Excuse me if I’m out of line, but your work has not been adequate lately.
There may have been a misunderstanding about what I expected from you.
Don’t get me wrong, but I think we should concentrate on the Smith account for the moment.
Read the following word groups aloud several times. Please don’t try to learn by-heart. Your sub-conscious mind will do that job, even without your knowledge, and rush onto your tongue whenever required. Yes, your job is just to read these word groups aloud several times.
It doesn’t work.
It’s not what I wanted.
It’s not what I asked for.
It’s not what I saw.
It’s the wrong size/shape/colour/model.
I was told it would (be made of leather).
I was given /sent the wrong thing.
I can’t use it/wear it.
It only lasted (two days).
I was told it would be (half an hour).
The food wasn’t properly cooked.
The repair wasn’t properly done.
The room wasn’t properly cleaned.
The service was slow/incompetent/very poor.
The staff/people were rude/unhelpful.
I was insulted/kept waiting/overcharged.
Complaining about people’s behavior
What gives you the right to behave like that?
Would you mind making less noise?
Will you please stop making so much noise?
Will you please turn the volume down a bit, please?
If you don’t stop smoking, I’ll have to complain to the conductor.
You shouldn’t have said that.
That’s what hurts me most.
Will you stop teasing me?
I’m sorry, but this has got to stop. What do you think you’re doing?
This is really too much!
Stop shouting! I’ve had enough of this.
You have absolutely no right to behave like that.
Your Telephone is not working for the last two days. No action has been taken by the authorities to rectify the problem, even after many complaints and reminders from you. Make a final complaint stating that you will take the matter to the Consumer Forum, if the fault is not rectified immediately.