Decline Orders But Offer an Alternate or Substitute Item • Letter Templates and Guidelines

How to write this letter:

1Thank the reader for the order or offer a compliment. In preparation for offering another product, make a positive statement that refers both to the original item and to the substitute.
2Offer an explanation, if possible, of why you cannot fill the order. Use the passive voice, if necessary, in order to avoid blaming anyone. Briefly note that the ordered item is not available.
3Present the alternative positively, noting such features as similarities to the ordered items, lower prices, speed of delivery, etc.
4Offer the reader a simple method of ordering the alternate item.
5Close on a positive note.

Guidelines

Don't leave this letter half finished. When declining a customer's order, always use the opportunity to sell the customer an alternate or substitute item.

Example Letter #1

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We were pleased to receive your request for our classic, windowless model of BreadMax, the most popular bread-making machine on the market. BreadMax's simplicity and large loaf size, combined with our famous service contract, have given us a reputation to be proud of--a reputation made only brighter by the recent success of BreadMax II.

With its fogless window, BreadMax II has been so favorably received that manufacture of the model you ordered--the original BreadMax--has been discontinued. While we're sorry for the inconvenience this may possibly cause you, we've found that virtually all our customers ordering by phone, when told of our recent change, have gladly opted for BreadMax II. They consider the additional $1.75 a small price to pay for the useful window feature. BreadMax II is essentially identical to our original model, differing only in its new window and a new latch design for improved insulation.

Upon your request, we will immediately process your order, substituting Bread Max II for the unavailable model. We invite you to call us any time toll-free at 555-5555 or return the enclosed verification card at your earliest convenience. Alternately, we would be happy to offer you a complete refund. We value you as a customer and look forward to hearing from you.

Example Letter #2

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Thank you for your order for a 310-lb National weight set listed at $250 in our 2019 catalog. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has discontinued this item. I am enclosing our 2019 catalog that offers a comparable set by Doe Sports for $199.50. You will find this set listed on page 59. To place an order call 555-5555 and charge it on any major credit card. We will deliver the set to your home within three days. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving all your fitness needs.

Example Letter #3

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Thank you for inquiring about the Doe Wetlands Sanitation System, the ecologically sound way to process human waste. Unfortunately, the Wetlands system will not be available for sale in this country for several more years. We do, however, sell a Swedish Compost Toilet that is a very effective mode of waste disposal.

While some Americans shy away from the compost toilet, you will find the system both practical and economical. The end product affords you nutrient-loaded soil that at the end of two years you can transfer directly to your garden to enrich your soil. If you would like to order the Compost Toilet, or receive more information about it, call 555-5555. Thank you for choosing Doe's, where ecology and practicality go hand in hand.

Example Letter #4

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We are please you have chosen to order your poinsettias from Doe Nurseries. We offer our customers the highest qualities plants at the lowest prices. However, because our reputation is well known, we have been asked to furnish 1,000 poinsettias for the Governor's reception on Saturday. This completely depletes our stock of red poinsettias. We could fill your order with 100 blush-colored poinsettias if you would like. This new color is very popular, and we would offer you a five percent discount on these poinsettias.

If you would like me to reserve 100 blush poinsettias, please call me at 555-5555. I'm sure you will find the blush poinsettias add an innovative touch to your decor.

Write Your Letter Step-by-Step

1

Thank the reader for the order or offer a compliment. In preparation for offering another product, make a positive statement that refers both to the original item and to the substitute.

Example Sentences for Step 1

Example Phrases for Step 1

2

Offer an explanation, if possible, of why you cannot fill the order. Use the passive voice, if necessary, in order to avoid blaming anyone. Briefly note that the ordered item is not available.

Example Sentences for Step 2

Example Phrases for Step 2

3

Present the alternative positively, noting such features as similarities to the ordered items, lower prices, speed of delivery, etc.

Example Sentences for Step 3

However, I am enclosing an order form listing a number of currently available solid and multicolored top sheets. Although the colored top sheets cost slightly more than the unavailable white, many furniture stores buy them for a striking addition to a coordinated bedroom ensemble. Our Linnette line has replaced our Linen-look paper series. Like its predecessor, Linnette paper is 25 lb. bond with a centered watermark on each sheet. We offer this product in white, ivory, and executive grey. As you can see from the enclosed sample swatches, with Linnette you receive the same high quality you enjoyed with Linen-look, at the same price. However, our Mini-Compostubs are currently available. If your garden plot is smaller than 20 square feet, a Mini-tub is all you would need. Also, the Mini-Compostub costs $15 less than our regular size. I am enclosing our latest catalog with ten new designs for knitted afghans. For an additional $10, we can match the colors you requested for the Fisherman's Afghan. Doe's is, however, offering the seminar in ten other cities throughout the country this year, as outlined on the enclosed schedule. Since travel expenses for our seminar are tax-deductible, many participants choose to take the seminar away from home, thereby combining the seminar with an enjoyable trip. We do offer the stacking option with all of our standard washers and dryers. Our stacked washer-dryer combination stands no higher than the portable unit and is only two inches wider and one inch deeper. Whereas the portable unit was available in white only, our stacking option allows you to choose from a wide variety of designer colors.

Example Phrases for Step 3

4

Offer the reader a simple method of ordering the alternate item.

Example Sentences for Step 4

Example Phrases for Step 4