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Situational Writing - Formal Letter of Complaint

In this article, we will be learning more about the Situational Writing Component. Specifically, we will explore how to write a formal letter of complaint. This introductory article will cover the format, tone and structure of a formal letter of complaint. We will be learning the following key points:

Formal letter: Complaint

  1. Deconstructing the task
  2. Analysing the visual stimulus
  3. Structure
  4. ‘Model’ body… Paragraphs
  5. Closing + Follow-up action

1. Deconstructing the task

Practice Questions

You are advised to write between 250 and 350 words for this section.

You should look at the menu, study the information carefully and plan your answer before beginning to write.

Your family celebrated your mother’s birthday at Fresh Food Restaurant. While you have had several pleasant dining experiences at the restaurant, it was unfortunate that the dining experience that day was unsatisfactory in terms of service and food waiting time. The food also did not reflect the quality that was promised on the menu, which is displayed below.

Write a formal letter of complaint to the manager of the restaurant to inform him of your experience. In it, you should explain:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why you chose to patronise the restaurant
  3. Why the dining experience was unsatisfactory
  4. Why the food was of poor quality
  5. How the restaurant could improve the dining experience

Your letter should be set out clearly, in accurate English and in a formal and polite tone. You should clearly define:

  • Purpose
  • Audience
  • Culture or Tone (Appropriate behaviour in society)
  • Context (Situation/ Scenario)

Fresh Food Restaurant's Menu

Question 1:

From the information given, you are to assume the role of __________ in your situational writing.

  1. Customer
  2. Manager
  3. Student
  4. Yourself

Answer:

A) Customer

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (A) - 'customer'. Since you visited the fresh food restaurant and will be writing to the manager, you will be the customer.

 

Question 2:

You are to use the __________ format for this situational writing.

  1. Email
  2. Report
  3. formal letter
  4. Article

Answer:

C) Formal letter

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (C) - “formal letter”. As you will be writing to the restaurant manager and you do not know him personally, you will be writing a formal letter to him.

 

Question 3:

Who is your letter’s target audience?

  1. Your mother
  2. Mr Kula
  3. The manager of Fresh Food Restaurant
  4. The owner of Fresh Food Restaurant

Answer:

C) The manager of Fresh Food Restaurant

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (C) - “the manager of Fresh Food Restaurant”.

 

Question 4:

What is your purpose of writing this letter?

  1. To complain about the bad service and unsatisfactory quality of the food and give some suggestions on how the restaurant can improve.
  2. To inform the manager about the limited selection of food available at Fresh Food Restaurant and give him suggestions on a new menu.
  3. To inform the manager about the unprofessional staff and to ensure they face disciplinary action.
  4. To inform the manager that you wish to have a refund of the money you spent on your mother’s birthday celebration.

Answer:

A) To complain about the bad service and unsatisfactory quality of the food and give some suggestions on how the restaurant can improve.

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (A) - “to complain about the bad service and unsatisfactory quality of the food and give some suggestions on how the restaurant can improve”. The rest of the options are incorrect as you are not complaining about the bad service and only informing about certain things.

 

Question 5:

What should be the tone of your letter?

  1. informal and forceful
  2. firm and critical
  3. sad but hopeful
  4. formal and polite 

Answer:

D) formal and polite

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (D) - “formal and polite”.

 

Question 6:

What are NOT some of the points you should include?

  1. The reason(s) you chose to patronise the restaurant and the context of the dining experience.
  2. Threats of bad reviews about the restaurant on social media if they do not respond promptly.
  3. The reasons for the unsatisfactory dining experience and poor quality food.
  4. Ways in which the restaurant could improve the dining experience

Answer:

B) Threats of bad reviews about the restaurant on social media if they do not respond promptly.

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (B) - “threats of bad reviews about the restaurant on social media if they do not respond promptly”. It is not appropriate to threaten the restaurant manager and any staff with bad reviews. We should only inform them in a formal and polite manner and make them understand your expectations and the experience you had.

2. Analyse the visual stimulus 

Consider the following things while analysing the visual stimulus:

  1. Read through the given information and look at the pictures
  2. Write down the related thematic vocabulary
  • Theme: Poor dining experience
  • Related Vocabulary: inexperienced waitress, repeated customer who has enthusiastically recommended the restaurant to friends, disappointed with the waiting time, the food was of inferior quality, would like to believe that it was an isolated experience, tarnish the reputation when the dining experience falls short of the promise to customers.
  1. Identify how to include the visual stimulus.
  • Refer to the given information of the food description, including the pictures – and how the quality fell short.
  1. Suggest some improvements to the service and the food that could furnish a better dining experience in the future.

Note on Tone:

While it is gratifying to vent your frustrations at the manager over the less than satisfactory dining experience, it is good to bear in mind that the complaint should be constructive to persuade the restaurants to improve the experience. Hence, it is important to maintain a level of civility and be fair in your complaints.

Begin with some compliments for the restaurant to soften the tone. When recounting the unpleasant experience, be objective and relate the events as they occurred.

3. Format of complaint letter

  1. My name and address
  2. Date
  3. Manager and address
  4. Dear Sir/ Ma’am
  5. Title of Letter (For instance: My Poor Dining Experience)
  6. Introduction
  7. Body Paragraphs
  • Why you choose to patronise the restaurant
  • Why the dining experience was unsatisfactory
  • Why the food was of poor quality
  • How the restaurant could improve the dining experience
  1. Conclusion

Practice Questions

You are advised to write between 250 and 350 words for this section.

You should look at the menu, study the information carefully and plan your answer before beginning to write.

Your family celebrated your mother’s birthday at Fresh Food Restaurant. While you have had several pleasant dining experiences at the restaurant, it was unfortunate that the dining experience that day was unsatisfactory in terms of service and food waiting time. The food also did not reflect the quality that was promised on the menu, which is displayed below.

Write a formal letter of complaint to the manager of the restaurant to inform him of your experience. In it, you should explain:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraphs
  • Why you choose to patronise the restaurant
  • Why the dining experience was unsatisfactory
  • Why the food was of poor quality
  • How the restaurant could improve the dining experience
  1. Conclusion

Your letter should be set out clearly in clear, accurate English and in a formal and polite tone.

Fresh Food Restaurant's Menu 2

Question 1:

What information should be written in the red box?

Letter Of Complaint

  1. 9 December 2020

The Manager

Fresh Food Restaurant

1 Clementi Lane

Singapore 120201

  1. Dear Sir/ Madam,
  2. An Unpleasant Dining Experience 

Answer:

A) 9 December 2020

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (A) - “9 December 2020”. We will be writing the date in the red box. 

 

Question 2:

What information should be written in the red box?

Letter Of Complaint 2

  1. Purpose of letter
  2. The Manager
    Fresh Food Restaurant
    1 Clementi Lane
    Singapore 120201
  3. Dear Sir/ Madam,
  4. An Unpleasant Dining Experience 

Answer:

B) The Manager 
     Fresh Food Restaurant
     1 Clementi Lane
     Singapore 120201

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (B) - “The Manager Fresh Food Restaurant 1 Clementi Lane Singapore 120201”.  

 

Question 3:

What information should be written in the red box?

Letter Of Complaint 3

  1. Purpose of letter
  2. Main content
  3. Dear Sir/ Madam,
  4. An Unpleasant Dining Experience 

Answer:

D) An Unpleasant Dining Experience

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (D) - "An Unpleasant Dining Experience". The purpose of a letter will be covered in the introduction, and the main content will be a part of the body content.

 

Question 4:

What information should be written in the red box?

Letter Of Complaint 4

  1. Purpose of letter
  2. Main content
  3. Dear Sir/ Madam,
  4. Follow-up action

Answer:

C) Dear Sir/ Madam

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (C) - “Dear Sir/ Madam”.

4. Writing the Introduction

Purpose of Letter - Write a short description of why you chose to patronise the restaurant.

I am a regular patron of Fresh Food Restaurant and have tremendously enjoyed the food and service on several occasions. Last Sunday evening, on 5 December, I brought my family to your restaurant to celebrate my mother's birthday. I chose to celebrate the joyous occasion there as Fresh Food Restaurant is known for its sumptuous food and impeccable service, and I have highly recommended this restaurant to my friends. Unfortunately, my family and I were neither satisfied with the food nor the service rendered to us on that day. I am writing this letter to express my disappointment with the service and food and provide some feedback on how the restaurant can improve the dining experience.

Practice Questions

Question 1:

Main content - Body Paragraph 1

Topic sentence: I would like to first explain how the dining experience was marred by the unacceptable service standard and the long waiting time for the dishes.

Which of the points below should you NOT include in body paragraph 1?

  1. To begin with, we were ushered to a table which had not been cleared. Used plates and cutlery, with scraps of food spilt over, were left scattered on the table. It was quite unsightly.
  2. My mother, who was served the ribeye steak, found that the medium rare steak she had ordered, turned out to be well done and tough. Hence, she was unable to enjoy the hard steak.
  3. While it was true that the restaurant was packed and that it could have culminated in the long waiting time, I felt there was no excuse for rude behaviour from the staff.
  4. The first dish took fifteen minutes to arrive, and this was even after repeated reminders. We were also not issued any apologies for the unacceptable waiting time.

Answer:

B) My mother, who was served the ribeye steak, found that the medium rare steak she had ordered, turned out to be well done and tough. Hence, she was unable to enjoy the hard steak.

Explanation:

You are basically looking for the sentence that does not match your topic sentence or the odd one out and does not flow in a paragraph. The correct answer to this question is option (B) - “My mother, who was served the ribeye steak, found that the medium rare steak she had ordered, turned out to be well done and tough. Hence, she was unable to enjoy the hard steak". We should talk about 1 idea in a paragraph. Option (B) is completely out of place as it is talking about food, and we have not given the general idea of the issue as well.

 

Question 2:

Main content - Body Paragraph 2

Topic sentence: The quality of the food also left us exasperated when it failed to deliver on the promises highlighted in the food menu.

Which of the points below should you NOT include in body paragraph 2?

  1. Moreover, it took a while for a waiter to clean the table and hand us the menu. Then, we had to wait another good ten minutes before a waitress attended to our orders.
  2. My mother, who was served the ribeye steak, found that the medium rare steak she had ordered, turned out to be well done and tough. Hence, she was unable to enjoy the hard steak.
  3. When we started our dining experience, it was a complete disappointment. The creamy mushroom soup which my son ordered was thin and bland, in stark contrast to the “rich and creamy” soup reflected in the menu.
  4. Lastly, I expected the king prawn salad I ordered to be similar to the “fresh” and “sweet” prawns in the menu. Instead, they were mushy and not fresh at all. Even the signature chilli crab pasta was not up to its usual standard because the pasta was overcooked.

Answer:

A) Moreover, it took a while for a waiter to clean the table and hand us the menu. Then, we had to wait another good ten minutes before a waitress attended to our orders.

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question is option (A) - “Moreover, it took a while for a waiter to clean the table and hand us the menu. Then, we had to wait another good ten minutes before a waitress attended to our orders.”. The topic sentence is about the quality of the food. Hence, option (A), which is not about the quality of the food, should not be included in body paragraph 2.

 

Question 3:

Main content - Body Paragraph 3 (Recommendation & reconciliation)

Topic sentence: I would like to believe that this is an isolated incident and hope to make some suggestions for a better dining experience. 

Which of the points below should you NOT include in body paragraph 3?

  1. While it is understandable that the restaurant hires temporary staff on the weekend to cope with the increased number of patrons, the management should ensure that all its hired staff undergo a short training course before being allowed to serve diners.
  2. The staff should also be familiar with the dishes to make helpful recommendations to the patrons. They must also be trained in etiquette and their attitude towards diners.
  3. It would be a pity if a restaurant that is as highly esteemed as yours tarnishes its reputation because of inconsistent service and food standards.
  4. I told the waitress about the unpalatable food, but she just shrugged her shoulders.

Answer:

D) I told the waitress about the unpalatable food, but she just shrugged her shoulders.

Explanation:

The correct answer to this question (D) - “I told the waitress about the unpalatable food, but she just shrugged her shoulders”.

5. Closing + Follow-up action

Following is a sample of the closing and follow-up action that you can follow:

I am sure you will agree that the standard of service and the food that I have described was unacceptable. I have had several pleasant experiences in your restaurant prior to that day, and I sincerely believe that the restaurant is capable of offering a more satisfactory experience. I hope that you can consider my suggestions and I look forward to a better dining experience next time.

Yours faithfully, 
Digital Signature Of Joel    
Joel Tan      

 

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Summary Writing Situational Writing - Formal Letter of Complaint
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