How to write a transactional letter (introducing a request/ complaint letter) for New FCE exam

How to write a transactional letter – complaint letter for the New FCE exam? Here’s a sample topic that has been divided into paragraphs and each of the sections explained. 

Part 2 

You must answer this question.

You recently had a short holiday in a large city which you booked through a company called Last Minute Holiday. You were very disappointed with the holiday. Read the Last Minute Holiday advertisement for the holiday you booked and the notes you have made. Then write a letter to Last Minute Holiday, explaining what the problems were and telling them what you want them to do.

fce writing complaint letter

Write your letter. Don’t include any postal addresses. Write your answer in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.

Sample answer:

Dear Sir,

I am writing to complain about a short holiday I had recently, which was organised by Last Minute Holiday. I was dissatisfied with several things. 

You start with Paragraph 1- Introduction
In the introduction you :

– say why you are writing

– begin Dear Mr Johns/ Dear Ms Jones etc. if you don’t know the name of the person write Dear Sir/ Madam

– don’t begin by saying who you are

Phrases you can use in the introduction:

*  I am writing to you about ..
* I am writing … with reference to…/ in response to …
* I am writing to complain about / to say that I am not happy with…
REMEMBER: It’s a formal piece of writing that means:  use a formal, neutral style: no contractions, no colloquial language, no direct questions, no informal punctuation such as exclamation marks.

First, your advertisement promised a hotel in a central location, whereas in fact the hotel was relatively far from the city centre. You also said that all the rooms would have a river view, but my window just looked over the car park, which was very noisy. I also had to pay extra for dinner, although the advertisement had stated that it was included in the price. To make matters worse, I had no choice of which show to go to. I had wanted to go to a new musical, but the only ticket offered to me was for one which I had seen already.

As you can see all the problems where included in the 2nd paragraph and the 3rd paragraph will be devoted to the refund and your general disappointment.

 In the 2nd Paragraph you :

– try to include majority of the problems with the service/ product

– make a clear connection between your letter and the task- DON’T repeat the exact words that were used in the topic.

– list the complaints clearly

– use linking words to connect your complaint with the details

– organise your application so that you mention the relevant notes of the areas in the advertisement

Phrases you can use to in the 2nd paragraph:

* I am writing to you about (several problems related to…)
* I have been waiting for ( 10 days for a reply to my letter)
* To make matter worse…
* The advert claimed/ stated that…… In fact, ….
* My first/ second complaint it that…
* My problems do/did not stop there.
* To my surprise/ horror/ disappointment
* Furthermore, .. / Even worse,… / Even more worringly,…. /
* When it comes to the question of…
* You/ They promised that
* I have to disagree with…
* It is simply not true that…
* And do you really think that ..?
* Use linkers e.g. Moreover / Furthermore / In addition / but it fact / whereas actually

I had been looking forward to my holiday very much, but it was completely ruined by these problems. I therefore feel that you should refund half the cost of the holiday in compensation for my disappointment. 

In the 3rd Paragraph you :

– mention the relevant notes of the areas in the advertisement

Phrases you can use in the 3rd paragraph:

Use similar phrases as in paragraph 2. or:

* And whereas it may be true that..

* We have to accept that..

* I must insist that/ you….

* I must ask you to…

* In my experience…

* In conclusion/ I think…

* Use linkers e.g. Moreover / Furthermore / In addition / but it fact / whereas actually

I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

Yours faithfully,

Paul Brown

Paul Brown

In the last paragraph you :

– use formal ending ( Sincerely/ Sincerely yours / Kind regards / Yours truly etc. )
– sign your name and then print your name clearly underneath

Phrases you can use to end the letter

* I look forward to hearing from you.

Over to you:

You recently bought few vinyl records because of this advertisement you saw in the local newspaper. You are not at all satisfied with quality and you have decided to write to the newspaper to complain. Look at the advertisement and the notes you made and write your letter.

FCE writing complaint letter


Write your letter. Don’t include any postal addresses. Write your answer in 140- 190 words in an appropriate style on the separate answer sheet.


When writing the answer to any task, check that you have paid attention to the following points.

Answering the question

Have you

• answered all parts of the question?

• included all the necessary information?

• written the required number of words?

• organised your ideas appropriately, using paragraphs where necessary?

• written clearly so that it is easy to read?


Are there any mistakes in grammar, vocabulary, spelling or punctuation?


Have you used

• a variety of grammatical structures?

• a range of interesting vocabulary?

• a range of linking words?


• Is your language appropriate for the type of writing? (Remember to think about who you are writing for.)

• Is your answer interesting for the reader, and would it have a positive effect?

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