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Introduo / Enquadramento................................................................................ 4

Complaining - introduction................................................................................... 6

Complaints book................................................................................................... 9

Example of a complaint form............................................................................. 10

Types of complaints - introduction......................................................................11

Complaining video........................................................................................... 12

Types of customer complaints - examples..........................................................13

A Suggested Customer Complaint Procedure (face-to-face)...............................15

Types of clients first impressions.....................................................................16

Types of clients how to analyse and deal with eight difficult types of client....20

Difficult clients video....................................................................................... 26

Complaining service step-by-step....................................................................27

8 Steps to Squash a Customer's Complaint........................................................27

Written complaints structure of a business letter............................................31

Business letters in English..................................................................................32

Written complaints example of a complaint letter...........................................39

Complaint letter................................................................................................. 40

Written complaints how to complain using e-mails..........................................42

Written complaints example of a complaint e-mail..........................................43

Complaints on the phone.................................................................................44

Complaints on the phone - dialogues..............................................................47

Face to face complaints some rules before starting.........................................48

Body language................................................................................................... 48

Face to face complaints dialogue: product-specific complaint.........................52

Idiomatic expressions the most common business idioms..............................54

Anexos................................................................................................................ 67

Conversation questions...................................................................................... 68

Useful language complaining...........................................................................69

Useful Language Dealing with Complaints.......................................................70

Bibliografia......................................................................................................... 71

Introduo / Enquadramento

Este manual de Lngua Inglesa unidade 0358 atendimento no servio

ps-venda visa ilustrar e fundamentar a aquisio ou aperfeioamento de
competncias tcnicas da lngua inglesa na rea de atendimento ao
cliente/reclamaes por parte dos formandos cujo intuito aprofundar a sua
aprendizagem na lngua estrangeira. Desta forma, encontraro respostas para
as suas necessidades profissionais e, em simultneo, aprendero a comunicar
em lngua estrangeira de maneira adequada e o mais fluentemente possvel.

Assim sendo, o presente manual servir de referncia para a aquisio e

desenvolvimento de conhecimentos em Ingls Tcnico na rea de Comrcio,
servindo as seguintes fichas (que podero ser adaptadas consoante as
necessidades do pblico-alvo), como exemplo da informao terica e prtica a
ser ministrada nas sesses, o que permitir um adequado desenvolvimento do
perfil de proficincias proposto no referencial de competncias-chave desta

Referencial de Lngua Inglesa atendimento no servio ps-
venda Unidade 0358


Adquirir e aplicar vocabulrio especfico da lngua inglesa, na

comunicao verbal com clientes estrangeiros, no servio ps-venda.


Linguagem bsica aplicada s diferentes fases da gesto de reclamaes

Expresses idiomticas

Complaining - introduction

Try to answer the following questions before you start.

1. What is a complaint?


2. Why do people complain?


3. Is complaining the same as looking for a solution?


Make a comment on the following poster.

Is it correct to complain all the time about services and products? Why? Why

Read the cartoon and then try to answer the question.

Complaints book
In Portugal, all public establishments have a complaints book. Not having one is
against the law.

Types of clients first impressions
PAIR WORK translate and then analyse the following eight types of clients.

Client 1 Client 2

Client 3 Client 4

Client 5 Client 6

Client 7 Client 8

Types of clients how to analyse and deal with eight difficult types of

Read the document below. Underline important information.

The easiest way to sell someone is lines for international companies

not figuring out what they and production events, I have
want but how they want it. purchased my fair share of these
Whether a customer or a guides, ever so much in wide-eyed
excitement for the golden goose, the
boss, learn to distinguish the
panacea to all objections and
8 different types of clients and
glorious accolades from clients and
start closing immediately.
the boss. However, there are few
By Kenyon Boltz
new approaches that can promise or
guarantee. It is the basics: attitude,
In the tumultuous art of
passion, drive, and knowledge.
salesmanship, there are hundreds of
I gather this reference list from years
books, lectures, and self-
of experiences, numerous
actualization techniques occupying
workshops, and colleague bantering
this vast realm. Many claim the
improving upon the lengthy process
secret to success lies bundled in
of developing new clients and
this book versus the other contender
maintaining loyalty for increased
boasting clich allegories;
sales goals. The current economic
fundamentals hidden beneath
climate requires savvy awareness,
numerous pontificating chapters and
increased determination, and

Speaking from an extensive

Here is a list of eight types of
background of 10 years in the front-
clients/customers and advice in

handling these personality types to board. Please keep the context of
adapt your pitch, thus increasing information relative to your
sales, office accolades, and getting individual situation.
your time to the top of the

The Strong Need for Domination Avoid the confrontation: this will
ultimately, if not indefinitely, end in
no gain and lost potential.
Depending on the context, an ally
within the company, such as
partner, secretary, or other team
member, may be ways to have your
alternative perspectives reach this
person on their own terms.


Upon first interaction, either from

new prospect or from a new lead, Different from the security-driven
their trait is apparent: they are type, they force the salesperson to
abrasive and defiant. The discussion do all the work. The entire dog-and-
is monopolized leaving small amount pony show does not sit well; they
of time to inform or to overcome are neck deep in their own duties
objections. Information is rapid from than to be concerned either with a
their impatience, tends to reaffirm proposal or information toward a
their need of urgency, and interrupts solution. Uncooperative in answering
when one introduces alternative questions, even closed-ended, they
perspectives. This situation can be are a challenge to the salesperson
frustrating; however, because of and the salespersons assertions.
their desire to be dominant, you can
use this to your advantage. Solution: The significant key is being
completely prepared not to waste
Solution: Prepare your the customers time. Understanding
meetings/conversations with extra they would rather be doing
information supporting a point something else, keep your pitch as
allowing you to stay in control. By short as possible without losing any
asking more open-ended questions of the important points to their
you will keep the person talking and needs.
providing you with more information
to the problem you need to solve.
Since they tend to ask or to answer be to draw the customer into a
little questions, be clear-minded to dialogue of conversation from their
your objective. A good direction can experiences relating to the product.

Time is critical to them so if the Their current supplier might be
product or service can save time or cheaper, but calculate how much
workload, use this. they lose if their orders are incorrect,
late, or have no customer support,
The I Can Get It Cheaper for example.
Somewhere Else Type
The Im Everyones Friend,
Salesman Type

Similar to the popular type in

constantly drawing you off track with
their sheer humour and off-beat
casualness, you fail and fall into
their trap. Their main difference is
the clever way they get you to drop
This is self explanatory: always your defences into providing lower
insisting they know somewhere else pricing or additional service than
it is cheaper or they have a current you would originally have offered to
supplier that provides a discount. a prospective client. Consider it
ironic: you were sold when you were
Solution: Early in my experiences, I supposed to sell. And you lose out
usually shuffled this type deeper in on your incentive for the sale.
my pipeline, but I began to
understand that I already knew Solution: Stick to business. The
exactly how to proceed: let the casual banter is always welcome;
product and objective data speak for however, keep in mind what you are
itself. trying to do and what they are trying
Get information before you start into to do. Because of their nature, the
your product or pitch, especially the innate ability to barter price with
price they believe, or can get it at. promises of future orders, insist on
This is a classic pay for what you talking about the products and
get. The more information they can keeping the person involved by
provide can lead you to research on asking your own questions without
the competitor. Display the true getting off track.
value they are getting with their Remember, business is a two-way
current supplier versus the benefits transaction.
from your prospective item.

The Real Tough Buyer Your personal attention is critical to
their decision-making process. Never
The true competition for all over-promise. The more you know
salespeople. They make you work for about your product to combat his
their business, period. They are information on your competitors,
knowledgeable, discuss intelligently the better you will close.
point for point your competition, and Always remember, salesmanship is
breakdown your product with a pros- an art. There is only so much that
and-cons formula. can be taught. The resilient attitude,
the unflinching confidence, and the
Solution: Their drive for a hard intuition to your prospects needs
bargain can cut into your pricing are the fundamentals and should
range but they are fair and logical in never be forgotten. Take a moment
your efforts. to think about some of your current
Being honest with the bargain and clients or prospects and decide if
the follow-through is huge to them. they do personify these traits.

Answer the questions in your own words.

1. Which of the previous is the most difficult type of client for you? Why?

2. Did you ever have a difficult situation with a client? Which one? How did
you react?

Data / Date

Normalmente no abreviada.

Ex: 13th November 1998; Thursday, 13 November 1998.

Ttulos de cortesia

Os mais habituais so os seguintes:

Mr ou Mr. Senhor (Sr.)

Mrs ou Mrs. (Senhora (Sr.)

Miss Menina, senhora solteira

Ms usado para se dirigir a uma senhora quando se desconhece o seu estado


Messrs. abreviatura de Messieurs, usado para se dirigir a uma pessoa

coletiva (p. ex., uma firma comercial)

Saudao inicial / Salutation

Dear + surname se o nome do destinatrio conhecido.

Ex: Dear Mr Brown.

Corpo da carta / Body of the letter

Neste caso, os critrios no so substancialmente diferentes dos usados
no nosso pas.

Saudao final / Complimentary close

Se na saudao inicial o correspondente foi referido pelo apelido Dear Mr

Brown, a saudao final costuma ser Yours sincerely ou Yours truly, nos

Caso o correspondente no tenha sido referido pelo nome, usa-se Yours


Assinatura / Signature

Para evitar quaisquer problemas de identificao, habitual incluir o

nome do remetente aps a assinatura (abreviando ou no os nomes prprios,
mas nunca o apelido), indicando-se tambm o respetivo ttulo, eventualmente
entre parntesis.

Modelo de uma carta comercial comum (The normal business

Como se comeam as cartas comerciais / How to begin commercial or

business letters

Frases para abertura / Opening phrases

We have (I have) the pleasure to inform you that

We have (I have) pleasure in informing you that
We have (I have) the honour of advising you of the arrival of
We have (I have) the honour to send you
We are (I am) in receipt of your letter of the 22 nd and
We are (I am) in possession of your order of the 23 rd last.
We beg (I beg) to give notice that
We would be (I would be) much obliged if you
We very much regret (I very much regret) that you are not able (you are
unable) to send me
We are (I am) very pleased to inform you that
In reply to your letter of the 12th, we (I) may say that
We are (I am) writing to ask if you will be able
Please accept our (my) apology for not answering sooner to your letter of
9th, but
In compliance with the request contained in your telegram of the 5 th, we
have (I have) pleasure in sending you


Como se encerram as cartas comerciais / How to end commercial or
business letters

Fechos de cartas comerciais / Endings of commercial or business


We rely (I rely) on receiving your urgent reply, Yours

Awaiting your reply by return of post (by fax), Yours
Always at your disposal, Yours
Awaiting your instructions, Yours
Awaiting an early reply, Yours
Meanwhile please accept our (my) best thanks in advance and believe
me, Yours
We (I) shall have the greatest pleasure in being of service to you, Yours
With our best thanks, Yours
We hope to hear from you and are Yours
With kind regards, Yours
In any case, please let me hear from you, Yours
Hoping to hear from you in the near future, Yours
With thanks, Yours
With compliments and regards, Yours

Written complaints example of a complaint letter

Below is a sample of complaint letter. You can use this outline to help you write
a complaint letter but you may wish to vary it to fit your particular problem.

[Your name]

[Your address]

[Email and/or phone]

Dear Manager



State that you have a problem with goods or services bought from the business
at a particular location and date and that you want the problem fixed.

Explain the key details of the problem including when you discovered it and any
other steps youve already taken to get it fixed, such as a telephone call or a
visit to the store. Note who you spoke to and any results of your efforts.

State that you have enclosed copies of relevant documents, such as a receipt of
bank statement for proof of purchase.

State the steps you want the business to take to fix the problem.

State that you expect to hear from the business with a solution by [insert date
or within 10 days]. Describe what you intend to do if the business fails to fix the
problemsuch as making a formal complaint to the ACCC or the consumer
protection agency in your state or territory.

List your business and after hours contact details.

Yours sincerely

[Your name]

Enclosed: Copy of the receipt for [insert name of product or service]

Complaint letter

Below is an example of a possible finished letter using the complaint letter

example (previous page).

Jane Brown

123 Street

1 January 2013

Dear Manager



I am unhappy with the quality of a television cabinet I bought at 5 Street on 15

December and I am writing to seek a replacement.

The cabinet doors do not open and shut properly and the stain on the cabinet is

uneven, with one half darker than the other. The cabinet was delivered on 30

December and I noticed this problem as soon as I unpacked it from the box.

The cabinet is not of acceptable quality and does not match the sample cabinet

I was shown in store. I would like you to replace it with one of the same quality

and finish as the sample and arrange for return of the faulty cabinet at no cost.

I have attached a photocopy of my receipt as proof of purchase.

I would like to have this problem fixed quickly please. If I do not hear from you

within 10 days, I will lodge a formal complaint with Consumer Affairs in

my state.

You can contact me on 1234 5678 during working hours or after hours on 123

456 789 to discuss this matter further.

Yours sincerely,

Jane Brown

Enclosed: Copy of the receipt for television cabinet


Write a complaint letter. Complain about a broken microwave.



Written complaints how to complain using e-mails

Study the following vocabulary.

Mr. Peters: 408-533-0875

Customer Service Representative: I'm terribly sorry about the

misunderstanding. We'll do our best to change this as quickly as possible.

Mr. Peters: Thank you for your help in clearing this up.


1. Translate the previous dialogue.

2. Role-play it.

Complaints on the phone - dialogues

Read the following conversation.

A: Thank you for calling LG Visa, this is Kelly speaking, how may I help

B: Hello, my name is Toni and I want to dispute a charge on my statement.

A: What is the amount of the charge?

B: It was the purchase I made on the 12th of April for the amount of $288.00

A: Why are you disputing this charge?

B: The seller promised to deliver the merchandise in 2 days but I never received
the merchandise. I would like you to credit my account.

A: For you to dispute your charge and for us to credit you account, you
must write us a letter explaining what happened.

B: OK, thank you.

A: Thank you for calling LG Visa, have a wonderful day.

Activity: now role-play it (and use your camera to record it if possible). Then,
analyse your performance.

Face to face complaints some rules before starting

Analyse and make a comment on the following documents.

Body language
Document 1

Document 2

Document 3

Document 4

Face to face complaints dialogue: product-specific complaint

Role-play the following.

Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen. When this is the case, customer

service representatives need to handle consumers' complaints. It's also
important for customer service reps to gather information to help resolve the
problem. The following short dialog provides some helpful phrases to deal with

Customer: Good morning. I purchased a computer from your company last

month. Unfortunately, I'm not satisfied with my new computer. I'm having a lot
of problems.

Customer Care Representative: What seems to be the problem?

Customer: I'm having problems with my Internet connection, as well as

repeated crashes when I try to run my word-processing software.

Customer Care Representative: Did you read the instructions that came with
the computer?

Customer: Well, yes. But the troubleshooting section was no help.

Customer Care Representative: What happened exactly?

Customer: Well, the Internet connection doesn't work. I think the modem is
broken. I'd like a replacement.

Customer Care Representative: How were you using the computer when you
tried to connect to the Internet?

Customer: I was trying to connect to the Internet! What kind of question is


Customer Care Representative: I understand you're upset, sir. I'm just trying
to understand the problem. I'm afraid it's not our policy to replace computers
because of glitches.

Customer: I bought this computer with the software pre-loaded. I haven't

touched anything.

Customer Care Representative: Were sorry that youve had a problem with
this computer. Could you bring in your computer? I promise you we'll check the
settings and get back to you immediately.

Customer: OK, that will work for me.

Customer Care Representative: Is there anything else I need to know about

this that I havent thought to ask?

Customer: No, I'd just like to be able to use my computer to connect to the

Customer Care Representative: We'll do our best to get your computer

working as soon as possible.

Idiomatic expressions the most common business idioms

1. In pairs, translate the idioms below.

2. Find, if possible, matches for those idioms in the Portuguese Language.


24/7 24/7 means 24 hours a day, The convenience store on the

seven days a week. corner is open 24/7.

ASAP ASAP is an acronym for "as I need to finish these reports. My

soon as possible." boss needs them ASAP.

a tough break When something It was a tough break for us when

unfortunate happens, it can Caroline quit. She was one of our
be called a tough break. top performers.

at stake At stake means at risk. I'm a little nervous about giving

this presentation. There's a lot at

back to square Back to square one means Our programmers identified what
one to start something over they thought was the problem with
again. the software. After working for
several hours, it turns out that the
problem isn't the problem they
identified, so it looks like we're
back to square one.


back to the Back to the drawing board The prototype wasn't successful.
drawing board means to start something We have to go back to the drawing
over again. board.

behind the scenes What happens in secret or They make it look so effortless, but
not in front of the general they do a lot of hard work and
public is said to happen planning behind the scenes.
behind the scenes.

big picture Everything that is involved Even though we all have very
with a particular situation is specific tasks to do, our manager
called the big picture. makes sure we don't lose sight of
the big picture.

by the book To do things by the book There are a lot of regulatory

means to do things industries that audit us on a
according to company regular basis. It's important that we
policy or law. It means to do everything by the book.
follow the rules 100%.

call it a day To call it a day means to Well, John, it's 7:00 and I'm getting
decide to stop working for hungry. How about we call it a day?
the day.

corner a market To corner a market means Apple has cornered the market on
to dominate a particular mp3 players. They have a very
market. large percentage of market shares.


cut corners To cut corners means to We don't cut corners on our luxury
take shortcuts and find an products. They are all made to high
easier or cheaper way to do standards with materials of the
something. highest quality.

cut one's losses If you stop doing something Advertising through that company
that is unproductive and was expensive and we didn't see
won't ever generate results, an increase in sales. So, we
you cut your losses. decided to cut our losses and stop
doing business with them.

fifty-fifty Fifty-fifty means something My business partner and I split

is divided equally -- 50% for everything fifty-fifty.
one person, 50% for the
other person.

If you start a business,

from the ground Bill Gates built Microsoft from the
project, or something else
up ground up.
from zero, you start it from
the ground up.

To get or have your foot in

get/have foot in My son just took a low-paying
the door means to take a
the door internship position with a large
low-level position with a
company. He was happy to get his
company with the goal of
foot in the door at a well-known,
eventually getting a better
respected company.
position with the same
company in the future.

get back in/into To get back in/into the Our company shuts down
the swing of swing of things means to operations for three weeks during
things get used to doing the holiday season. When I go back


something after you have to work in January, it's always

had a break from that difficult to get back in the swing of
activity. things.

get down to To get down to business Well, everyone's here, and I know
business means to stop making small everyone is very busy. So, let's get
talk and start talking about down to business and talk about
serious topics related to the proposal.

get on the good If someone likes you, you I always remember my co-workers
side of are on the good side of that birthdays and get them a card or
person. small gift. I like to get on people's
good side.

get something off To get something off the We're very glad that the planning
the ground ground means to start a process is over. We're looking
project or business. forward to getting the project off
the ground.

give someone a To give someone a pat on The boss gave Brian a pat on the
pat on the back the back means to tell back for coming up with such a
someone that he or she did good idea.
a good job.

give To give something or I can't believe she gave us the

something/someo someone the thumbs down thumbs down. I thought it was a
ne the thumbs


down means to deny approval. great idea.

give To give something or They gave our new proposal the

something/someo someone the thumbs up thumbs up. We're going out to
ne the thumbs up means to approve. celebrate tonight.

go broke To go broke means to go There was too much competition

bankrupt or to lose all the and their expenses were too high.
money a person or business They eventually went broke.

go down the drain When you waste or lose He dropped out of college in his
something, it is said to go third year and never continued his
down the drain. studies. All of his hard work and
money went down the drain.

go the extra mile To go the extra mile means We go the extra mile for our
to do more than what customers. If someone is
people expect of you. dissatisfied with a purchase, we
refund their money and offer them
a discount on their next purchase.

If you do not have any

hands are tied I would love to get you a job at my
control over a situation,
company, but my hands are tied.
your hands are tied.
Management isn't hiring any
additional employees this year.

If you have a lot of work to

have someone's She has to sell $35,000 worth of
do or a particularly difficult


assignment, you have your

work cut out products by the end of the month.
work cut out for you.
She has her work cut out for her.

In a nutshell means in a few In a nutshell, this book is about

in a nutshell
words. how to motivate employees.

If a company is in the black, We didn't have a great year last

in the black
it means that they are year, but at least we're in the
making a profit. black.

If a company is in the red, it When I started my own business,

in the red
means that they are not we were in the red for the first two
profitable and are operating years. We didn't see a profit until
at a loss. the third year.

A lose-lose situation is when It's a lose-lose situation. If they lay

lose-lose situation
someone has to choose off more workers, they'll get bad
(also called a "no-
between various options press. If they don't lay off more
win situation")
and all the options are bad. workers, they won't be able to

nine-to-five A nine-to-five is a job during She was tired of working a nine-to-

normal working hours. The five job, so she took her savings
term came into existence and started a restaurant.
because many work days
start at 9 AM and end at 5

no brainer If a decision is really Taking the new job was a no

obvious or really easy to brainer. They offered me more
make, the decision is a no money, a better schedule, and


brainer. more vacation days.

no strings If something is given They will let you try the product for
attached without expecting anything free with no strings attached. If you
in return, it is given with no don't like it, there is no pressure to
strings attached. buy it or give them anything in

not going to fly If a solution isn't effective, I don't think that idea's going to fly.
people say that it isn't going Let's keep generating ideas.
to fly.

no time to lose If there is no time to lose, it I told them I'd send the email by
means that there is a lot of the end of the day and it's already
pressure to complete 4:45. I need to get to work. There's
something quickly. no time to lose.

off the top of If someone says something I have no idea how many branches
one's head off the top of his or her they have. Off the top of my head,
head, it means that he or I'd say about 20.
she gives a response
without thinking about it for
a long time or doing any
research on the subject.

on a roll If someone is on a roll, it Our profits have been above our

means that he or she has projected numbers for five months
had several successes in a


row. in a row. We're really on a roll.

pink slip If someone gets the pink They gave him the pink slip. He
slip, it means they have wasn't performing very well.
been fired.

play hardball To play hardball means to He played hardball to get where he

be competitive in a cruel is, so I would be careful what you
way and without showing say and do around him.
mercy. Playing hardball
means doing anything
possible to win.

put the cart To put the cart before the They were trying to find investors
before the horse horse means to do or think without even having a business
about things in the wrong plan. They were putting the cart
order. before the horse.

read between the To read between the lines He didn't say that he wants to
lines means to understand leave the company, but I can read
something that wasn't between the lines. He's thinking of
communicated directly. getting a new job.
Reading between the lines
involves understanding
what someone is implying
or suggesting but not
saying directly.

round-the-clock If a company has round the We have round-the-clock

clock service, it means they production at all our manufacturing


are open 24 hours a day. facilities.

run/go around in To run or go around in I've made phone calls all day and
circles circles means to do the haven't made a single sale. I feel
same thing over and over like I've been running around in
again without getting any circles all day.

safe bet A safe bet means It's a safe bet that smart phones
something that will will be much more advanced in 10
probably happen. years.

same boat If people are in the same We're all worried about losing our
difficult situation, they are jobs. We're in the same boat.
in the same boat.

second nature When someone learns how He's been a computer programmer
to do something so well that for ten years. At this point,
it appears that he or she programming is second nature him.
was born knowing how to
do it, we say that the
activity is second nature to
him or her.

see something To see something through I told my boss that I really wanted
through means to do something to see my current project through
until it is finished. before taking another project.

sever ties To sever ties means to end We had to sever ties with several of


a relationship. our suppliers due to late


shoot something To shoot something down It's best not to shoot ideas down
down means to deny something, during a brainstorming session.
such as a proposal or idea. The goal is to generate ideas, not
to criticize them.

sky's the limit If there is no limit to the With their commission structure,
possibilities of something, the sky's the limit to what you can
people often say "the sky's make.
the limit."

stand one's If you stand your ground, it We tried to change the dress code,
ground means that you will not but Human Resources stood their
change your opinion or ground.
position on an issue.

start off on the To start off on the right foot We offered them a very generous
right foot means to start something in price on their first order and
a positive way. everything shipped on time. We
really started off on the right foot.

start off on the To start off on the wrong I just switched cable companies.
wrong foot foot means to start They overcharged me for the first
something in a negative month's service. They really
way. started off on the wrong foot.


talk someone into To talk someone into I was hesitant to redesign our
something something means to website, but my employees talked
convince someone to do me into it. I'm glad they did. The
something. new site is much better than the
previous one.

talk someone out To talk someone out of I wanted to make a real estate
of something something means to investment, but my financial
convince someone not to do adviser talked me out of it.

think big To think big means to have I'm not content with just opening
high goals and big plans for one or two more stores. I'm
the future. thinking big -- I think we can open
10 more stores in the next five

think outside the To think outside the box Creating a completely new product
box means think of creative that no one has ever sold before is
solutions instead of an example of thinking outside the
common ones. Thinking box.
outside the box involves
thinking of unconventional

throw in the towel To throw in the towel means I was trying to learn Portuguese,
to quit. but I got frustrated and threw in
the towel.


time's up Time's up means that the I think his time's up as the CEO.
time for something or They're going to replace him as
someone has ended. soon as they find a suitable

under the table Something done secretly To avoid paying taxes, they paid
(and usually illegally) in the some of their employees under the
business world is done table.
under the table.

up in the air If something is undecided, it We're looking for a test market

is up in the air. right now, but nothing has been
decided yet. Everything's still up in
the air.

upper hand If someone has an He was more experienced and well

advantage on someone respected, so he had the upper
else, he or she has the hand in the argument.
upper hand.

win-win situation A win-win situation is a We were happy to get the contract,

situation where everyone and they were happy to get such a
involved gains something. good price. It was a win-win


Conversation questions
The following information may help you. Study it.

Have you ever received bad service in a restaurant? What happened?

Have you ever received bad service in a bank, post office or government
How did you deal with it?
How would you describe the quality of customer service in your country?
Do you think it is a waste of time to make a complaint about service?
Which types of businesses do you think have the worst customer service?
What do you think are the best qualities for someone providing customer
What are the worst qualities?
What makes you annoyed when you are receiving a service?
How do you feel about automated call systems where you speak to a machine
rather than a person?
How often do you make complaints about customer service?
Have you ever had to deal with a customer complaint? What happened?
What is the best way of resolving a customer complaint about service?
Do you think people who work in customer service need to receive special
What do you think it would be like working in a department that deals with
Could you do a job like this?
Is there an organisation in your country that deals with consumer rights?
Which businesses in your country are known for good service?
Which businesses are known for bad service?
How can companies ensure they provide good service?

What is the level of customer service like in banks/ in fast food restaurants/
from phone companies/ from utilities/ from transport companies/ from airlines in
your country?
How does customer service in your country compare to other countries you
have been to?
Is the level of service in your country generally getting better or worse?
Have you ever written a complaint letter? What for? What was the result?
Have you ever demanded to speak to a manager or supervisor?
Have you ever made a telephone complaint?
What do you think is the most effective way of making a complaint?
What do you do if you receive bad service in a restaurant?
Has social networking made businesses more aware of the importance of
good customer service? How?

Useful language complaining

Making the complaint

Im ringing to complain about

Im sorry, but Im not satisfied with
Unfortunately, theres a problem with
I am very dissatisfied with the service I received


It really isnt good enough

Id like to know why
Id like an explanation for


If you dont replace the product, Ill complain to the manager

If you cant deliver on time, well have to contact other suppliers

Useful Language Dealing with Complaints

Showing understanding

Im sorry to hard that

Yes, I see what you mean
I apologise for
I understand your upset about

Getting the facts

Could you give me some details, please?

What happened exactly?
What seems to be the problem?

Making Excuses

Its not our policy to replace items

Its not our fault that it hasnt arrived
Im afraid thats not quite right
Im sorry, theres nothing I can do

Promising action
Ok, Ill look into it right away
Ill check the details and get back to you


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