Flo-Joe for Cambridge English Exams

Cambridge English: Proficiency

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Writing Task (go to Checklist)

Writing Paper Part 2. Task Type: Letter of Complaint

You recently ordered an expensive item from a mail order catalogue after you saw it being advertised at a discounted price in the press. The company withdrew the offer after you made the order and charged you at the full price. Write a letter to the company outlining your dissatisfaction with the way you have been treated and the action you want them to take.

Write the letter to the company. (around 280 - 320 words)

What you need to do to pass
Read our checklist first to understand what the examiner is looking for in a good answer.

Ideas for writing
Ask yourself the following questions to help you get started:

  • Use the opening paragraph to describe the details of the product you have ordered, the terms of the Special Offer, and where it was advertised. Choose something expensive which there is likely to be a great deal of demand for and write down the full details.
    For example: "... AIWA ZA20 Midi System with Turntable...original price - £250, but £189 with discount...advertised in 'Music Monthly' magazine "
  • In the next paragraph you should narrate the details of the problem with your payment. Jot down a bare outine first:
    For example: discovered you had been charged full price, told that the offer was withdrawn because it was too popular, offered a refund if the product is returned, etc.
  • In the rest of the letter you should try to persuade the company to let you keep the product and only pay the discounted price. Decide if it would be more effective to use threatening language or gentle persuasion! Compare the effect of the following:
    "If you do not reimburse me I will have no option but to seek legal advice..."
    "I am sure that we can come to an agreement that suits both parties..."

    It's up to you to decide which approach to take!

Drafting and proofreading your work

You should look at your first draft of the task and decide:

  • Have you answered the question fully?
  • Is the layout and organisation appropriate for a letter?
  • Is the language accurate with a good range of structures?
  • Is the style appropriate and consistent for your letter?
  • Is your letter likely to achieve the required result (in this case, a cash refund or some other compensation)?

If the answer is 'no' to any of these questions then you will need to do some more drafting!


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