How to Complain in English

You can complain when you are not satisfied or happy with a service, product or event. You should try to be polite as the person you are talking to will be more willing to help you solve the problem than if you talk to them in an angry, condescending manner.

Some phrases you can use to help you complain in English:
I’m sorry to say this but…
There seems to be a problem with…
There appears to be something wrong with…
I was expecting ______ but…
Sorry to bother you but…
I want to complain about…
I have to make a complaint about…
I hate to tell you but…
I’m angry about…
I’m not satisfied with…
I don’t understand why…
Excuse me but there is a problem…
Would you mind…?

This is unfair. /I don’t think this is fair.
This is ridiculous. / I think this is ridiculous.
This seems unreasonable/I think that sounds unreasonable.

When you complain you should state your complaint and then how you think it should be resolved or a possible solution.

Example Complaints:

  1. There seems to be a problem with my cell phone bill. I was billed for two phone lines and I only have one. Could you double check the charges on my account?
  2. Sorry to bother you but I bought these pants yesterday and they have a hole in them. I would like to exchange them for new ones.
  3. I want to complain about Wendy, your customer service representative. She was very rude when I called this afternoon. Maybe she needs more training on how to deal with customers.
  4. Would you mind turning down your music? It is too loud and I can’t concentrate on what I am doing.
  5. There must be a misunderstanding, I thought the class was supposed to go until 6pm but everyone seems to be leaving earlier. So, what time can we actually leave?
  6. I have to complain about my workload.  I think that it is unfair that all the cases are being sent to me and are not being split up amongst the department.
  7. I hate to tell you but the way you are talking to each other is not okay. You are going to either need to calm down or leave the restaurant immediately.
  8. I was expecting you to help me clean up but you aren’t. Can you please pause your video game and help me for a few minutes?

Sometimes the employee or person that you are talking to is not listening or helping you as you wish. You can ask to speak to someone else to help resolve your complaint. You can say…

Can I speak to your supervisor?
Can I speak to your manager?
Is there someone else I could speak to about this matter?

Below is a list of common phrases that children (and some adults) use when they are complaining or avoiding doing something. Children often drag out words to emphasize how much they don’t want to do something or like something.


How kids (and some adults) complain…
• I don’t want to do that.
• This is stupid.
• I am really tired.
• I’m busy.
• I can’t believe we have to do this.
• This isn’t fair.
• You like him better than me.
• I don’t want to.
• I hate this.
• No one will help me.
• You’re not listening to me.

Next time you need to complain in English, try using some of these ideas to express your disappointment.  

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