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An IELTS letter of complaint: mobile phone

The question

You have just bought a new mobile phone from a website on the internet. When it was delivered, the phone was faulty.

Write a letter to the website. In the letter:

  • introduce yourself
  • explain the situation
  • state what action you want to be taken

Read the letter of complaint

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you to complain about the mobile I bought from your online store on 23rd November. I have been a loyal customer of yours for the last 4 years and have successfully made many purchases over the years. Unfortunately, however, this time I am dissatisfied with the service you have provided.

The mobile telephone I ordered was the latest smart phone, the Samsung Android SA23. My reasons for choosing this model was that you advertised it on your website as having the new Swype texting system and complete social network support. Unfortunately, neither of these functions works properly. When I try to write a text message, the system either crashes or switches into Chinese and does not recognise the words. Likewise, the telephone does not have the advertised complete social network support, as I am unable to upload photographs to Twitter and Facebook.

For these reasons, I would ask you either to refund the purchase price in full or send me a replacement handset. I look forward to your immediate response.

Yours faithfully

Practise writing the letter

Learn how to write the letter

Do the lesson

Answering the question

1.Answer all parts of the question

The first point to see is that this question asks you to write about 3 different points. You must remember that it is not enough to say what the problem is, but you must also say who you are and what you want to happen next.

2. Think about what the main reason of the letter is – it’s a letter of complaint

Most IELTS letters have a function: explaining/apologising etc. This letter is really just a letter of complaint and that means you need to use some good complaining language.

3. Think about who you are writing to

It is always important to think about who you are writing to,as that will tell you whether you need to use more formal or less formal language. You should see here that you are writing to someone you don’t know and that it is quite a business-y letter – that means you need some more formal language.

4. Think about what vocabulary you need

Vocabulary is 25% of your score, so it makes sense to think about what words you need – the clue is always in the question. My suggestion is that you should brainstorm some language before you start writing. If you do not do this, you might use too simple vocabulary or repeat words too much. this should also give you ideas for writing. Here are the words I found:

mobile phone: handset/text/camera phone/smart phone/message/screen

website/internet: online/connect

bought: purchase/customer/shop/store/product/service/cost/price

faulty: not work/malfunction/break/unreliable

Complaining language

Letters of complaint are quite common and it is sensible to prepare some language to help you write them. Here are some simple variations:

I am writing to complain

I must complain

I would like to complain

My complaint is

I am unhappy with

I am dissatisfied with


Structuring the letter

Generally, IELTS letters are quite easy to organise as you just need to follow the 3 different points the question asks you to write about and use a paragraph for each one of them. If you do this, you make sure that you get a good Task Response score by answering the question fully. Two points to remember ( and these are good for life and not just IELTS):

The introduction

You should say clearly what the purpose of the letter is. The standard language in a more formal letter like this is:

I am writing to [complain]

The conclusion

You should say what you expect to happen next. This will normally involve asking the other person to contact you in some way. Again, there is standard language here:

I look forward to

Note that if you use this phrase with a verb following it, the verb needs to be in an -ing form (eg “I look forward to hearing form you”).

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Letter of complaint - faulty mobile (4829)


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9 Responses to An IELTS letter of complaint: mobile phone

  1. jess December 13, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Hello Sir,

    Do you provide help on general training ?

    • Dominic Cole December 13, 2011 at 3:43 am #

      I plan to do more of this. I have taught quite a lot of GT IELTS and I know that there is not very much help out there. Is there anything you want help with in particular?

  2. unsure December 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    “I am writing to you complain …”

    Shouldn´t that read ” I am writing to you TO complain …”

  3. Dinaz January 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    one of the points says to introduce yourself – it it enough to say ‘you are a regular customer’

    I meant should you not give in some receipt number – registration number, date of purchase or some such details to identify yourself ?

    I have never done any shopping on line – so there is the possibility that i am very wrong here —–
    Its just something that crossed my mind


  4. Dinaz January 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    and why addressed Sirs – as in plural ?

  5. Dinaz January 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

    Is it correct to say the regular button would become unresponsive —–if i want to say that the phone would freeze and the keypad and the regular buttons would not work —–or it is wrong to use unresponsive for a “thing” ??

  6. Anonymous April 9, 2013 at 1:24 am #

    thank you vere much

  7. sarita April 17, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    thank you…………………

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