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Capítulo 7:

 Dealing with problems. Resolver problemas en inglés

1. Asking for payment

Asking for payment can be tough and might make you feel tacky. Some people avoid opening and reading payment request email altogether.

Basically with a payment request e-mail:

  • You remind the reader that they owe you money.
  • Warn them that you may consider taking further action if they don't pay or contact you to  make some sort of payment arrangement
  • Invite them to explore other payment options with you.

In any case, try to be polite and diplomatic, but assertive enough.

Below is a sample letter asking for payment of an overdue amount. You can customise it, change it or modify it to personalise it according to what you need.

From: Mrs Perry

To: Mr Watson

Subject: Overdue Payment Reminder

Attachments: none

Dear Mr Watson,

Our records show that we have not received your payment of €350 which was due on August 23, 2008. We hope this was just an oversight on your part and you will be able to remit the funds due immediately.

We need your payment in full so we can continue to serve your needs. The requested amount does not include any applicable late charges and fees. Because of your history of on-time payments, we have waived the penalty charge. In future, however, we will be obliged to charge a penalty to overdue accounts.

If your records show that you paid this payment before the date of this letter, you still need to contact us so that the discrepancy can be resolved and any errors corrected on your account. Please let us know immediately if there is any question concerning the payment.

Please call us on the toll free number listed above so that we can begin to work through this situation together.

Yours Sincerely,

George Perry

Customer Accounts

Activity 1.

Make sentences using the phrases in each column:

The first one has been done for you:  There is an outstanding sum on your account.

Mailing

 

Activity 6

Choose the most polite form:

1.           a) You must pay this invoice now.

              b) This invoice should be paid immediately.

2.           a) Your outstanding balance is now overdue.

              b) This outstanding balance is now overdue. 

3.           a) We note from our records that the balance of your account has not been paid.

              b) You have not paid the balance on your account.

4.           a) Please send a bank transfer to settle the account.

               b) Please send a bank transfer to settle the account. Please disregard this email if the matter has already been dealt with.    

 

Activity 7

Use the phrases in the box to complete the emails:

Mailing

First reminder

We are writing to you ........................................(1) of  $17, 000  for invoice reference number kzx1430.  The payment of this........................................(2)  It was............................(3) of last month.  Please send us.................................(4) a for the total amount or an explanation for the delay.  I have .................................(5)of the invoice.  If you have already dealt with this matter, please disregard this email.

 

Second reminder

With reference to our last email of the 20th June.  I................................(6) that we have not yet ............................(7)on the balance of your account.  You must understand that late payments can cause problems for us.  We would appreciate a bank transfer of 17,000 without..............................(8).  If you have any ...............................(9)this matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your co operation.

 

Final demand

I wrote to you on the 20th of June  and the 10th of July ................................(10)of $17,000 on your account.  I have attached copies of both emails.  Your payment ..............................(11)overdue.  We are very ...................................(12)has not yet received your attention.  Please .................................(13)of your account within seven days or we shall have no choice but to ................................(14)to recover the full amount.

Challenge

2. Complaints

When writing a complaint e-mail you it is highly recommended to keep it short and to the point to help ensure that your e-mail will be read in its entirety.

The complaint e-mail should be addressed to the customer service/consumer affairs department or the head office if there is no customer service department. The address and contact information of the customer service department should be available on the company's products or website.

A suggested structure for the e-mail could be:

In the first paragraph you should identify what the issue is and any relevant information that you believe is important. Be sure to include the following information if it's applicable to the situation: the date/time of the issue, location, name of person on duty, name of product, what the problem was, your account number, model number, price, warranty information and reference number. Be sure to stick with the facts and avoid putting emotions into your letter.

The next paragraph should state what you would like to be done to resolve the situation. If you received poor service, you could request an apology or a coupon. If a product malfunctioned, you could request that you could exchange the product for a new one or request a refund.

The last paragraph should thank the reader for the time. You can also throw in some compliments about something you liked about their company's product or service. You should include your telephone number/e-mail address so that they can contact you the as soon as possible if necessary.

Have a look at this model

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have recently ordered a new pair of soccer cleats (item #6542951) from your website on June 21st. I received the order on June 26th. Unfortunately, when I opened it I saw that the cleats were used. The cleats had dirt all over it and there was a small tear in front of the part where the left toe would go. My order number is AF26168156.

To resolve the problem, I would like you to credit my account for the amount charged for my cleats, I have already went out and bought a new pair of cleats at my local sporting goods store so sending another would result in me having two pairs of the same cleats.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I have been a satisfied customer of your company for many years and this is the first time I have encountered a problem. If you need to contact me, you can reach me at (+44) 598-5425.

Yours Sincerely,

Activity 1

Use the pairs of words in the box to complete these phrases concerning common complaints:

Maling

  1. I am writing to…………………… about the………………… attitude of one of your members of staff.
  2. I hope you will deal with this……………… promptly as it is causing me considerable………………………….
  3. I insist on a full…………………., otherwise I am willing to take the matter …………………..
  4. The product arrived…………….a bag of parts.  When I enquired about it your …………..were rude and unhelpful.
  5. My order has still not ………………even though I called last week to say that it was needed………………….
  6. I would like to point out a………………….. with your customer services………………………………...
  7. I expect to……………. my goods by the end of the week otherwise I will have no choice but to …………………my order.
  8. I would like a ………………………for my………………… goods as soon as possible.
  9. I believe I am ……………..to a full…………………..
  10. Although you……………….to sell top quality products, what I received was well below…………………..

Activity 2

Complete these sentences by using an appropriate word. Some of the letters in the word have been given to you. The first one has been done for you.

  1. You have only sent me 7 candlesticks instead of the 8 I requested in my order.
  2. Even though I paid for 8 candlesticks, I r_ _ _ _ _ _ d only 7.
  3. I o_ _ _ _ _ _ 8 candlesticks and there were only 7 in the box when I opened it.
  4. Firstly there were only 7 candlesticks when I had specified 8 on the order form.  In a_ _ _ _ _ _ n two of the candlesticks are damaged.
  5. The problem with the candlesticks has not been resolved. T_ _ _ _ f_ _ _ I refuse to pay the invoice.
  6. You have still not resolved the problem with the candlesticks, so I am r_f_ _ _ _ _ to pay the invoice.
  7. If I do not receive an a_ _ _ _ _ within seven days I will be forced to seek legal action.

3. Apologies

Quite often people take the easy way out and use e-mail when they should really meet in person with the party in question or pick up the old fashioned telephone. But when faced with groveling or apologizing, many let their pride win out.

Apologies are serious things and should never be trivialized. If the apology is for a minor flub, relating to something said or done online or in e-mail, that would then be the only time an e-mail apology would be apropos. Anything more serious with family or friends would require you give them a call or meet in person to apologize personally. It is better to show you have a backbone and can apologize in person.

All in all, one has to consider what is the best thing to do— not what is easiest or most comfortable. And as is usually the case, when it comes to apologies, the right thing to do tends not to be the easiest but the most humbling.

Anyhow, once again try to be diplomatic and polite and go straight to your point.

Activity 3

Match the beginnings of the phrases with the endings:

mailing

Activity 4

Below are two emails of apology, one formal, one informal.  Complete them by choosing the correct alternative:

mailing

Email 1)

Good afternoon,

I am writing on behalf of Monument DVDs, in regards to your recent complaint.  I was very ……………………(2)to hear of the problems you encountered with your DVD selection and the…………………………(3) you received from the cashiers.  I …………………………….(4)for everything that happened and thank you for bringing this matter to…………………..(5).  I will see that the problematic DVDs are replaced and refund you the cost of the rental in full.  I have ………………………………….(6)to my staff, and I will personally be making sure that all customer complaints are dealt with in a polite and helpful manner.

Once again I hope you will accept my most sincere apologies for any………………………….(7) this experience may have caused you.  I hope that this incident will not………………………..(8)you from using a products in the future.  If you have any further queries, you ………………………….(9)on my direct line given below.

Regards,

Email 2)

Hey,

I’m writing……………………(10) my family, we really enjoyed our recent holiday in your magnificent house, my wife said it was one of the best times she’d had in years.  However I was……………….. (11)to learn that my two sons had annoyed your neighbours with their ……………………….(12)on our last night when they returned from the pub.  I’m………………….(13)for causing any problems with them.  My wife and I were fast asleep at the time, so I was also grateful that you …………………………(14)just what they had been getting up to.  Both my wife and I have …………………….(15)with them, and they have been grounded for the entire month.  I really hope that they haven’t caused you……………………….(16) with your neighbours, we really feel terrible. I hope that you will not ……………………………(17)for a holiday in the future on the basis of this incident.  If you would like to talk about it, or if there was anything else, then you have my number, …………………………….(18)Thanks again, it was wonderful!

Best,

{salto de capitulo}.Getting personal. Correo personal en inglés

1. Congratulations

Whether it is the achievement of a milestone, a birthday or anniversary, birth of a new child, getting a new job, buying a home, winning an award, getting married, an anniversary, it is an ideal reason to send someone an e-mail of congratulations.

Offering your congratulations is easy and quick via email.  There are plenty of free e- cards available online, but sometimes it’s best to add a more personal touch. The relationship you have with your recipient will determine the formality of your congratulations

The reader will be pleased that you remembered the event and took the time to acknowledge it in writing.

Some interesting suggestions:

  • Congratulate the reader for her achievement, accomplishment, anniversary, new child etc.
  • Tell them where you learned about the accomplishment.
  • Add a comment of a personal nature (as if the reader is a former teacher, tell him how much being in his class meant to you).

Below are some common greetings and closings you might use.

mailing

Language Tip

Be careful with what prepositions you use in congratulations.

              Congratulations on (not in) winning the award.

All the best with the new job.

Good luck on the promotion BUT good luck with the new job. (it depends on whether you are talking about something as a single event like a promotion/award or something continuous like a new job, a party etc.)

Have a look at this model:

Dear Melissa,

Wow! You’ve done it again. Congratulations!

I just read in TIME Magazine that the last book you wrote just won a Gold Award for best-seller — your third time, I believe.

Your publisher also gave you a wonderful plug in the article. That’s an enviable track record few young writers have ever achieved. You must feel great, and I’m sure your parents are impressed, too. This should bring you a lot of new opportunities — not that you need it.

Job well done, Mel. I always learn a lot from you.

Sincerely,

Activity 1

Match the situations below with the most appropriate phrase:

Mailing

  1. Your friend just had a baby girl.
  2. It’s your brother’s birthday.
  3. Your colleague just got the promotion they were hoping for.
  4. It’s the last day of work before Christmas
  5. Your daughter is graduating from University.
  6. Your best friend is starting up a new business.
  7. It is New Years eve.
  8. Your friend got a great job in Thailand and they are moving there.
  9. One of your friends is getting married.

Activity 2

Choose one of the situations below and write a short message of congratulations.

  • You have just found out that your best friend who has been trying for 8 months to have a baby is finally pregnant.
  • Your colleague got the promotion he wanted after being passed over several times.
  • It’s your mother’s birthday.
  • Your sister got the loan she needed to start up her own gallery.
  • Your colleague is moving to a new company.

2. Invitations

Some of us lament at the passing of the old ways, where invitations were sent out on thick card with curly black script.  However in this modern world of text messaging and instant messenger, invitations via email have become more common and again, they are so much easier. 

An invitation can speak volumes about the occasion itself. Make sure your invites send the right message before they go in the mail. A professional invite can be more encouraging to the invitee, even if they don't want to attend.

Before you write an invitation, decide on the tone, voice and level of formality, based on the event itself. Determine the wording of your invite based on the level of formality. For example, a formal invitation might say, 'Dr. and Mrs. Stanley request the pleasure of your company,' whereas a more casual note might say, 'Please join us.'

Include the names of the host and/or hostess, as well as the place (with street address), time, date and purpose of the occasion, even if it's a simple get-together.

Make sure to add RSVP information at the bottom of the invite if you need to know who will be attending; for example, 'RSVP' followed by your telephone number. Include a respond-by date on a formal invitation so you can get an accurate head count in time to adjust the amount of food, number of place settings and room size.

Here you have some useful tips:

  • Use the kind of RSVP method that best serves the occasion: a telephone number for expediency, or an e-mail address if you know that the invitees use e-mail.
  • For less formal occasions, consider using social planning Web sites, such as www.evite.com, to send electronic invitations.
  • Using word processing programs, clip art, paint programs and a colour printer,  can help you personalize and print invites at home for casual occasions.
  • Include directions on any invite if the invitees aren't familiar with your location, and always include directions to a wedding.

Activity 3

Put the sentences below in order so that you have two different e-mails.  There is one formal email, and one informal email.

Dinner will be served at 9, there will be cocktails in the library beforehand.

I’m having a little get together at my place this weekend. 

Hi!

Hope to see you there!

I am having a dinner party at the summer house next weekend, and I would be delighted if you could all make it. 

Dear all,

Just a few friends, some good food, nice wine, and excellent company!

 Dress is casual formal.

Come over anytime after 9.

Please RSVP before the 12th February.

Ciao!

Regards,

Challenge

3. Accepting / Declining invitations

Now that you’ve sent out all your invitations, here’s how to accept or politely decline an invitation.  Accepting is great, you and your future host are happy, but declining is an art.  You must always be mindful of the other person’s feeling when declining an invitation.  However, with careful wording, you can let them know that you won’t be coming without causing upset.

What should you write when you accept or decline a written invitation? The phrases you use depend on the formality of the invitation.

Here you have some typical phrases to accept an invitation:

  • "Thanks for your invitation / invite. I'd love to come."

    "Thank you for inviting me to dinner. I'm looking forward to it very much."

  • (For a meeting)

    "I'm able / free to come to / attend / make the meeting at…"

  • "Thank you for your invitation to the opening ceremony. I would be delighted to attend."
  • “Thank you for your invitation to Rebecca's wedding. I would be delighted to attend."

Here you have some typical phrases to decline an invitation:

  • "Thank you for your invitation, but I'm sorry I can't come."
  • "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to make it on…"
  • "Thank you for your invitation. However, I regret that I will be unable to attend."
  • "Thank you for your invitation to…. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, I will not be able to attend.

Remember: If you are declining a formal invitation, it's customary to say why you can't attend with a phrase such as: "Due to a prior commitment, I will not be able to attend…". With formal invitations (but not wedding invitations) you can also end your e-mail with a phrase such as: "Wishing you every success with the (name of event)."

Language Tip

Here are some useful phrases to use when politely declining an invitation.  Remember, no matter what you say, your potential host is going to feel a little sad that you won’t be able to party with them.  Look at these carefully worded phrases for inspiration in declining politely.

  • I’m so sorry, but my weekend is all booked up.
  • I’m still getting over my cold, so I’m not up to doing anything tonight, sorry.
  • Wow!  That sounds wonderful, but I promised my sister/husband/best friend that we would spend time together on (the day of the party eg. Saturday)
  • I’m so sorry I can’t make it; I’m going out of town that weekend.  I hope you have a lovely time!
  • I have so much work to do; I can’t make it this week.  How about we catch up next weekend?

Activity 1

Put these sentences into the correct categories under these headings.

Categories:

mailing

Sentences:

o  I would be delighted to attend.                 

o  Thank you for your kind invitation, but I must decline.

o  Just to let you know I can make it.

o  It is with regret that I inform you of my refusal.         

o  Sorry, can’t make it.

o  Hey thanks, but I have plans.

o  I’ll be there!

o  Thanks for the invite I accept!

o  Sux, I’m going to have to pass.

o  I will be present, thank you for your kind invitation.

o  I wish to inform you I will be attending.

Please accept my deepest apologies, but I must decline.

 

Activity 2.

Choose one of these invitations and write two emails, one accepting, and one declining.

Party

Mailing

Mailing

Mailing

 

4. Giving advice

In the old days, the advisors to kings were soothsayers who read the future in the entrails of animals. Nowadays, advice has become a lot easier and less disgusting.  Advice is something that we all love to give, but many of us find hard to take, even after we’ve asked for it. But if you are able to accept it, good advice can be the keystone to a great friendship or relationship.

There are many ways of giving advice in English. Here are some of the most common expressions:

  • "If I were you, I would…"
  • "Have you thought about…"
  • "You really ought to…" ('ought' is pronounced 'ort')
  • "Why don't you…"
  • "In your position, I would…"
  • "You should perhaps…"
  • "You could always…"
  • “Perhaps you should...”
  • “You could always...”
  • “Why don’t you try taking a language class?”

Language Tip

When giving advice, we frequently use the conditional tense (the “If I were you tense), questions beginning “why don’t you try...”(+ ing) and modal verbs like should, would and could.

Activity 6

Read the following email exchange below and match the phrases in italics with these descriptions:

Description phrases:

a)     You can count on me for advice anytime.

b)     I was sad to hear you were having difficulties.

c)     What would you advise me to do?

d)     I hope my advice has been useful.

e)     I’m having difficulties

f)      I think it might be a good idea to….

g)     I would like you to advise me.

h)     Have you thought of (…+ing).

i)      I’m feeling really frustrated with my situation.

j)      Please contact me via email or telephone so we can discuss this situation further.

k)     I was wondering if you had any ideas about…

l)      Try to relax and think clearly.

 

Email exchange:

From Shelley to Greg

Hey Greg,

How are you, I hope you’re well.  I’m ok, actually I’ve got a bit of a problem(1) and I’d really appreciate your advice(2). As you know I took that job at the centre, but it’s been a month now, and I’m so bored.  I dread going to work everyday and my life fees so unfulfilling and empty.  I was hoping you could advise me.  The job pays pretty well, but I’m at the end of my tether(3)Any suggestions?(4)Please send me an email or call when you have a free moment.(5)

Thanks in advance,

Shelley.

From Greg to Shelley

Hey Shelley,

That doesn’t sound too good.  I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time at the moment(6).  I think you should(7) try to aim for a goal of some sort.  If the job pays well, then you could save up and travel or put the money towards some night classes.  If you up skill yourself, then you have a chance at finding a much better situation.   

Well I hope that helps,(8)

Greg.

From Shelley to Greg

Greg,

Thanks for the advice; your ideas are really good!  I’m going to try to save up and go to some classes.  But I don’t know if I can really continue here, it makes me feel so tired being bored all day.  What should I do?(9)

Shelley

From Greg to Shelley

Just calm down(10)Shelley!  If things are really that bad, why don’t you try(11) an online site for job opportunities?  It doesn’t take very long  you can upload your CV so that way employers come to you.

From Shelley to Greg

Great idea!  Thanks so much Greg!  I really owe you one!(12)

Challenge

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