Complaining in English

When complaining in English, it helps to be polite. This page will help you with this important English speaking skill.

In a shop

You’re in a shop and the assistant gives you the wrong change.

“Excuse me, I think you’ve given me the wrong change”, or “Sorry, I think this change is wrong. I gave you $20, not $10.”

In a hotel

“Excuse me, but there’s a problem with the heating in my room.”

“Sorry to bother you, but I think there’s something wrong with the air-conditioning.”

“I’m afraid I have to make a complaint. Some money has gone missing from my hotel room.”

“I’m afraid there’s a slight problem with my room – the bed hasn’t been made.”

When people apologise, they normally say “sorry” and offer to put the situation right.

“Excuse me, but there’s a problem with the heating.”

“I’m sorry – I’ll get someone to check it for you.”

or “Sorry to hear that – I’ll send someone up.”

Speaking tip

Although you may find it strange to use the word sorry when you complain, English speakers consider it polite. It will help you get what you want!