Writing Task 1 General Training Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

We have already looked at how to write an informal letter offering advice. Today, we are going to study how to write a letter of complaint. In this post you will:
  • Follow a 3 step plan to help you effectively write an IELTS letter.
  • Learn vocabulary and phrases you can use in a letter of complaint.
  • Write your own letter of complaint.


​Sample Task 1

You should spend 20 minutes on this task.

You recently stayed in a hotel in a large city. The weather was very unusual and the heating/cooling system in the hotel was inadequate.
Write a letter to the manager of the hotel. In your letter:
  • Give details of what went wrong
  • Explain what you had to do to overcome the problem at the time
  • Say what action you would like the manager to take

​You should write at least 150 words. You do NOT need to write your own address.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear _________________


Step 1 | Analyse the Question

​Before you write anything, you need to break the question down and plan your response. In the test this should take you around 5 minutes. The more time you spend planning, the better you will write. 
1. The topic of the letter is the hotel manager.
2. The topic of the letter is the heating/cooling system in the hotel.
3. The function of the letter is to advise.
4. The function of the letter is to thank the manager.
5. The function of the letter is to complain.
6. You must explain what the problem was.
7. You must explain what you did to overcome the problem.
8. You must explain what you want the manager to do.
9. You must be impolite to the manager.
10. Each bullet point in the task prompt should be an individual paragraph.
11. The letter must be informal.
12. The letter must be formal.


Step 2 | Think of Details

​The prompt requires you to write about an imaginary situation. What details do you need to invent (create) in order to write this letter? Think about this before you click on the box below.
What details do you need to invent?

1. Who you are writing too.
Do you know the name of the manager?

2. Where the hotel was.
What city was it in?

3. What the exact problem was.
Was the room too hot or cold?

4. What you did to improve your situation and overcome the problem.
Did you solve the problem or move to another hotel?

5. What you want the manager to do.
Do you want a refund or something else?


Step 3 | Write the letter

Now you have spent 5 minutes analyzing the question and planning the details, you need to write the letter. Writing the letter should take you roughly 10 minutes.

Linking words and phrases have been deleted from a letter. Complete the letter below with the words and phrases from the box.

Initially   ·  In order to   ·  However   ·  propose   ·  complain   ·  faithfully   ·  In addition to this   ·  look forward to   ·  thankful   ·  even though  
Click or touch a word above
Dear Sir/Madam
I am writing to about the temperature of the room in the King’s Hotel from the 14th-20th of August this year. I booked and paid for the room in your famous hotel on the internet and was expecting excellent quality and service. , the temperature in London was unusually high and the room, located close to the kitchens, was uncomfortably hot. It was so hot that I could not sleep and the heat made me quite dehydrated and sick. I was unable to enjoy my stay and had to change hotel.
, I complained to the reception staff but they were unhelpful. I asked to be changed to another room but I was not allowed to change, there were obviously rooms available. , I asked to speak to you directly, but the staff made excuses about why I couldn’t speak with a manager. After 2 nights at the King’s Hotel, I felt fed up and quite unhealthy. make the most of my holiday to London, I moved across town to the Queen’s hotel, where I was given a room with AC and the staff were very pleasant and helpful.
I that you reprimand your reception staff and give them further training for how to deal with this type of problem. I would also be for a full refund for the nights of the 16th-20th August in which I had to stay at a different hotel.
I hearing back from you and receiving my refund.
Yours ,
Mr. B. Phillipson


Comprehension Task

​Write NO MORE than 2 words to answer the following questions.
1. Do you know the name of the manager?
2. What city was the hotel in?
3. Was the room too hot or cold?
4. Did you solve the problem or move to another hotel?
5. Does the writer want a refund or something else?


Vocabulary Task

​Below are useful phrases for writing a formal letter of complaint. Match each phrase with the function.

Match the Phrase with the Function

1. Dear Sir/Madam
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
2. Dear Mr. _____ / Dear Ms. ______
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
3. I am writing to complain about + noun phrase
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
4. I propose that + noun phrase
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
5. I would be thankful for + noun phrase
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
6. I would be appreciative if + clause
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
7. I look forward to + verb ing/ noun
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name
8. Yours faithfully,
Demanding action
A greeting when you know the receiver’s family name
Ending
The reason for your letter
Close before signature
A greeting when you don’t know the receiver’s name


Writing Task

​You should spend 20 minutes on this task.
 
You have been living in a rental apartment for the past year. Recently a new neighbour moved in and has been making a lot of noise, which disturbs you. You have not yet met the neighbor.
 
Write a letter to the new neighbour. In your letter:
 
  • explain the situation
  • describe why it bothers you
  • suggest a solution

 
Write at least 150 words.
You do NOT need to write any address.
Begin your letter as follows:
Dear __________

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