Bad News – Sample 1
Bad News Message – Poorly Written Letter
Notice the emphasis on “we” and the overall impolite tone. The focus must always be on
the customer, even in bad news letters. Do you really want to lose his/her business
forever, just because of some temporary problems?
777 Tiny Town Road
Tejada, Texas 22210
April 29, 20xx
Ronnie’s Nursery The WORST way to start a business letter is to avoid “there
Mr. Tyler Brown begin with “I” or “we.” It tells the reader from are,” and
144-14 182 Place the very first word that the most important provide the
New York, NY 11413 person in this letter is I the company and not name of a
who it should be: YOU the customer. person to call
and a phone
Dear Tyler: number
We regret to inform you that due to the changes in your financial status this year, we have
sufficient reason to believe that you will not be able to maintain credit in good standing with us.
Therefore, we are no longer able to extend you credit. We will only accept cash for any orders
you make in the future.
We are sorry for the inconvenience. However, as your financial status improves, we will be
happy to re-establish your credit with us. Call if there are any questions or concerns.
Misspellings make you – and the
company your represent – look
Owner By not signing your letters, you give
the impression that you are avoiding
Incorrect business letter format – notice how the date is taking responsibility for your words
right justified and the signature block is indented. Such
inattention to details makes the difference between a
professionally designed letter and an amateurish one
Bad News – Sample 2
Bad News Message – Improved Letter
Notice how the overall tone has improved – positive,
and polite with an eye to keeping the business
Tylar’s Tulips Modified Block letter
777 Tiny Town Road format
Tejada, Texas 22210
April 29, 20xx
Mr. Tyler Brown
144-14 182 Place
New York, NY 11413
Indirect approach starts with
Dear Tyler: something positive
Over the years Ronnie’s Nursery has been a valued customer. However, because of
several late payment bills (see attached copies), all future orders must be made by cash
only. Negative news is handled tactfully yet honestly. The customer deserves to know the reasons for bad news
We understand that the economy has adversely affected so many small businesses.
However, you can understand that we must be able to collect payment on a timely basis.
Like you, we also have bills to pay. These lines appeal to the reader’s sense
of fair play
Your preferred status will be restored after a positive record of payment is re-established.
If you have any questions, please call our credit manager, Jerry Akiona, at (213) 123-
Polite, forward- looking close
Bad News – Sample 3
60 Scissors Lane
Craftland, CA 95111
March 3, 20xx
Ms. Janet Albertson Modified Block Letter Format
My Computer Crafts with Indented First Lines
111 Felt Avenue
Somewhere, US 12345
Bad news messages use the indirect
approach and starts with something positive
Dear Ms. Albertson:
Thank you for your continued support as a valued customer. We are pleased that
you have chosen Craft Supplies Unlimited for all your crafting needs.
Because the manufacturer has discontinued the item, we will no longer be
offering the colored poly foam sheets (SKU# 115325, and 115330). However, we have
located a new supplier with a superior product who can ship your order within two
weeks. To keep the customer from canceling the order, the writer gives a last sales pitch
You will appreciate the quality of the new colored poly foam sheets
(SKU# 231125). Tear-resistant and colorfast, the new foam sheets come in color packs of
12 brilliant and 10 pastel colors. And the price is right; the new sheets cost 10% less than
the discontinued sheets.
Please call me at (650) 567-8900 if you would like to have these outstanding foam
sheets sent to you. If you have any questions or would like more information, please visit
our website at www.craftsunlimited.com.
Notice how the overall tone of the
letter is positive and polite with an Sincerely,
eye to keeping the business
Sales Relations Manager
Bad News – Sample 4
Block Letter Format
December 7, 20xx
Mr. Henry Hennesey
344 Stratham Rd.
Freeport, AL 67890
Bad news messages use the indirect approach
and starts with something positive
Dear Mr. Hennesey,
Thank you for your interest in contracting Hawaiian Hog Wild’s hunting guide services.
We are committed to providing all interested parties with an exciting hunting experience
on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Negative news is handled tactfully yet honestly.
Although you have submitted all of your documentation within the required time period,
we cannot offer our services to you at this time for the following reasons:
• Your Certificate of Completion for a Hunter’s Safety Education Course is not from an
officially recognized branch of the International Hunters Education Association
(IHEA). Only certificates issued by IHEA affiliates are accepted by the State of
Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources as a valid proof of completion.
• The firearm you declared in your firearms inventory list is illegal in the State of
Hawaii. You listed your 12-gauge shotgun barrel’s length at 17 inches. The minimum
legal shotgun barrel length in the State of Hawaii is 18 inches.
We encourage you to register and complete an IHEA recognized Hunter Safety Education
course. They have many affiliates worldwide, and you can find the branch closest to you
via their website, www.ihea.com. Upon completion of an officially recognized course, we
will be happy to provide our services to you. Alternative actions so the reader can accomplish goals
As for your firearm, you have two options: you can bring an alternate, legal firearm or
you can hunt with a knife that we provide at no extra cost. Our hunting dogs' abilities at
Henry Hennesey 2 December 7, 20xx
capturing a wild boar makes it possible to use a knife instead of a firearm. The knife is
actually the preferred method of hunting among local pig hunters in Hawai’i, and it is an
experience that is much more exciting and adrenaline pumping.
Notice how the overall tone is positive and polite with an eye to keeping the business
If you have any questions or require further assistance in meeting the legal requirements
to utilize our services, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at:
Bad News – Sample 5
Modified block 1200 Pali Highway #45
Letter Format Honolulu, HI 96814
November 20, 20xx
Constance E. Masunaga, Pharm.D.
1212 Nuuanu Avenue #PH1
Honolulu, HI 96817 Bad news messages use the indirect
approach and starts with something
Dear Dr. Masunaga: positive
Thank you for interest in the Pharmacy Manager position. Your application and resume
were received at our Human Resources office and given careful consideration.
Negative news is handled tactfully yet honestly. The customer deserves to know the reasons for bad news.
The job criteria require three years experience as a Pharmacist and a current Hawaii State
license as a Registered Pharmacist. Your resume indicates that you recently graduated
from the University of the Pacific, School of Pharmacy, and therefore we are unable to
offer you a position at this time.
An alternative is offered whenever possible to help the
applicant achieve her goals
If you are interested in a staff pharmacist position, we are currently recruiting a full-time
day shift position at our Women and Children Outpatient Pharmacy. The staff
pharmacist position also includes a $2500 sign-on bonus. Please call the human resources
office 535-7400 if you would like to schedule an interview.
Your outstanding academic record makes you an excellent candidate for the staff
pharmacist position. Thank you again for your interest in RX Pharmacies. We look
forward to hearing from you soon.
Human Resources Director
Bad News – Sample 6
June 4, 20xx
Ms. Iris Arakaki, Director
Hawaii Food Bank Modified block format
2345 Mokapu Drive
Pearl City, HI 96782
Dear Ms. Arakaki, Bad news messages use the indirect approach and starts with
Thank you for your letter inviting me to participate in your worthy cause. As a
nutritionist for the Hawaii Health Organization, I agree with your concern for people in
need of basic necessities. The negative news is presented tactfully, and the reasons for refusal offered (the reader
should know why the favor can't be granted)
In October, the month of your campaign, I will be in New Guinea to help establish a
health facility there for the under-nourished people in that area. I am scheduled to leave
in September and return in January. So as much as I would like to help, I will not be
available. So that the reader can still accomplish his/her goals, an
alternative is offered whenever possible
May I suggest a replacement? I spoke to Thomas Carroll, the assistant director of the
local chapter of the World Health League. He has done fund drives on the mainland, and
because he is new here, would like to connect with your group. He has the available time
and experience to carry out this year's campaign. His phone number is 555-3487 ext. 456.
You may be assured that he and I would like to help your campaign in any way we can.
Best of luck to you in this year's annual food drive.
Very truly yours,
Notice how the overall tone of the letter
is positive and polite with an eye to
keeping good relations. The writer may
not be able to help now, but that doesn't
mean she can't (or won't) help in the Doreen Kaniho