Flo-Joe for Cambridge English Exams

Cambridge English: Advanced

Check out students' answers to Flo-Joe's CAE Writing tasks with a teacher's feedback

Writing Class: Formal Letter

Task Type: Letter of Complaint

Read this extract from a letter you have recently sent to a friend:

.... Oh, and by the way, don't go to Barry's Restaurant for your birthday. We went there last night - the service was awful and the food was a disaster! I complained to the head waiter but he asked me to put it in writing ...

Write your letter of complaint to the restaurant manager. (220-260 words)

Makeover: Piotrek

Read Piotrek's answer to this question below. Try correcting the piece of writing yourself first: use the marking codes to think about what might be wrong (or what's good) about the piece of work. Then when you're ready, click the green buttons in the text for our feedback.

Dear Sir or Madam

I am writing to complain about the way I was recently treated in your restaurant. Gd

Firstly, I have to say that I chose the best restaurant in our city, which yours pretends WW to be, because I wanted to celebrate our friend's birthday. We expected the service to be polite and helpful. When I entered with friends, PE nobody could tell me which table was not occupied. Furthermore, I booked WT a table three weeks before, but was informed that my name did not stay in list. PE Fortunately, there was one extra table, where we settled ourselves.

Secondly, waiting for soup for more than an hour, not to mention eating an - old bred, WW/S really annoyed us. What is more, the quality of the served dishes was rather poor. We even wondered if it didn't go off. WT Moreover, we were asked to pay /\ the water, whereas it stated in your menu that it was free. Having cold dinner and listening to sad music we wondered if we could not go elsewhere. PE

Finally, and perhaps mainly WW , we didn't manage to contact with WW the chef in order to complain. We were requested to write our suggestions and hand it in later. PE

As you can see, we found ourselves in a difficult situation that night. The aim of this letter is to avoid such errors in the future. I do hope you do not pretend WW to discourage guests to come WF to your restaurant, but rather attract more and more visitors.

Yours faithfully,

Piotrek Boj


Piotrek, this is a nicely written account of the problems you experienced in the restaurant. You tell the story of your experience clearly. The letter is organised appropriaely with the correct opening and closing forms. In the letter you could also explain what action you would like the manager to take (e.g. a refund, voucher for next visit, etc)
Language Points
1. Try not to over-use connecting phrases like 'firstly', 'secondly, and 'moreover'. They are useful in signposting points to the reader but if you include too many it can sound a bit dull. Some good expressions to use in a letter of complaint are ones like 'To make matters worse ....' or 'To add insult to injury.....'
2. You achieve the right register and tone in the letter, i.e. formal, through using the passive form ('we were asked..') and understatement.
3. The main language errors were to do with vocabulary and collocations in particular. There was nothing that was too horrendous, but I have made a number of suggestions that make it more natural-sounding.

Marking Code

/\ Word(s) missing

- Omit word

C Capitalization

Gd Good

O Organisation

P Punctuation

PE Poorly expressed

R Register/Formality

SS Sentence Structure

S Spelling

T Tip (Not wrong but a suggestion)

WF Wrong form

WO Word order

WT Wrong tense

WW Wrong word