Dissertation Sur Les Apologies Letter

Let us do justice to that intrepid spirit, whose leaps have sometimes led to truth and whose very excesses, like popular rebellions, have struck salutary fears in the heart of the despot. Let our thoughts be filled with all that we owe to the geometric spirit; but let us search for the spirit of philosophy, which is at once wiser than the one and more universal than the other.

— Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature, in Miscellaneous Works, 2nd ed., vol. 4, p. 58.[1]

The English historian Edward Gibbon (1737–1794) is known primarily as the author of the magisterial The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vols., 1776–1789). Both the imposing length of and awesome erudition displayed in that work have understandably overshadowed his other literary achievements, many of which deserve to be noted in their own valuable capacities.


Shortly following Gibbon's death, his good friend and literary executor, John Lord Sheffield undertook to edit and in 1796 published the first (of three) edition(s) of the Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon (MW)[2] in order that the reading public have an opportunity to gain a broader insight into the historian and his overall body of work. Various elements of the MW, as well as other Gibbon writings not contained therein, are listed below along with their pertinent bibliographical detail and descriptive text where available. Notes and letters from Sheffield were also included in the MW, but only Gibbon's writings follow here. Listed contents are exactly those from each volume's table as they appear in the Google Books digitized copies. Links to those copies are provided below. Where publisher and year follows a work the reference is to the year of its first publication apart from the MW. A year following alone (with or without a scholar's name) refers to the year of Gibbon's composition.[3] An asterisk [*] denotes that the work can be found in Craddock, EEEG (see References).

The Miscellaneous Works[edit]

  • FIRST edition: 2 vols. quarto (London: A. Strahan, T. Cadell, Jr. & W. Davies, March 31, 1796[4]).
    • Volume I:
      • Memoirs of my Life and Writings. independently, and likely pirated[5] as, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Edward Gibbon, Esq., 2 vols. duodecimo (London: Hunt & Clarke, 1827).
        online: 1898 edition, O.F. Emerson, ed. incomplete portions of six "drafts" lettered A-F. Sheffield aggressively edited both the Memoirs and the MW in order to reflect Gibbon's anti-French Revolutionary sentiment while also downplaying his connection with Edmund Burke's eschatological interpretation; to prevent any further enlargement of Gibbon's reputation for harboring "irreligion" or atheism; and for other purposes of a more personal nature.[6] In 1966, Georges Bonnard published a composite collection chronologically arranged, "built on the same general lines" as Sheffield's, along with a thoroughly informative account of the historical background.[7] The drafts were not printed in their unedited entireties until 1896.[8]
      • Letters from Gibbon to Sheffield et al.;
      • Letters to and from Edward Gibbon. Letter No. IX is Gibbon's "Lettre sur le gouvernement de Berne." see SECOND edition, Vol. II below.
    • Volume II:
      • Abstract of the Books Mr. Gibbon read—with Reflections,
      • Extracts from his Journal,
      • A Collection of his Remarks, and detached Pieces, on different Subjects,
      • Outlines of the History of the World (1771-Craddock; 1784-Ghosh)*;
      • Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature (à Londres: T. Becket & P.A. De Hondt, 1761; Paris: Chez Duchesne, 1762); first English translation (London: T. Becket & P.A. De Hondt, 1764). Gibbon's first published work, an invaluable introduction to the Decline and Fall, defends the érudits (antiquarian scholars) against French philosophes (especially D'Alembert in his Discours préliminaire à l'Encyclopédie [1751]) who had "contemptuously" assailed the érudits' work as inferior, parochial, and effete. Gibbon recoiled at the charges, and strove to reconcile the two groups by "proving...that all the faculties of the mind may be exercised and displayed by [the] study of ancient litterature [sic]." The Essai was reviewed with "cold indifference" in England,[9] but on the continent, it was met enthusiastically. In Paris, Gibbon was recognized as a man of letters. Sheffield opted not to provide an English translation because the Becket & De Hondt (1764) already existed.[10]
      • Critical Observations on the Design of the Sixth Book of [Virgil's] 'The Aenid' (London: P. Elmsley, 1770)*;
      • A Dissertation on the Subject of L'Homme au Masque de Fer (1774-in English)*;
      • Mémoir Justificatif Pour Servir de Réponse a l'Exposé, etc., de la Cour de France: First ed. (no place or printer, 1779); Second ed. (London: T. Harrison & S. Brooke, 1779);[11]
      • A Vindication of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London: J. Dodsley, 1779)* online;
      • Antiquities of the House of Brunswick (London: J. Murray, 1814)* online;
      • An Address, &c. [recommending Mr. John Pinkerton [to publish] the 'Scriptores Rerum Anglicarum', our Latin Memorials of the Middle Ages] (1793)* as An Address &c. a well-conceived, persuasive plan to publish what Gibbon saw as a glaring deficiency in the English archives, i.e., the collected works of all English historians from 500 to 1500 A.D., including "the most ancient of our national writers" through the onset of David Hume's "true and perfect Æra of modern history." The deficiency grew all the more conspicuous when contrasted with similar projects already successfully carried out in Germany, Italy, France, and Denmark. The brief work strongly recommends Scot historian and poet John Pinkerton to head the project; an editor, Gibbon writes, "replete with a variety of knowledge," and "well qualified for this study, by a spirit of Criticism, acute discerning and suspicious."[12] For his part, Gibbon was prepared to contribute a general introduction and author-specific prefaces.

The first edition was "pirated" and reprinted twice in 1796, in Ireland and Switzerland:[13]

  • 3 vols. octavo (Dublin: P. Wogan, L. White et al.), adds only a "long note in French on Mme de Sévery" in vol. 1 at pp. 277–78. vol. 1: online. includes Memoirs of my Life and Writings; Appendix (Letters to and from Gibbon). vol. 2: online. Letters to and from Edward Gibbon, Esq.; Abstract of the Books Mr. Gibbon read—with Reflections; Extracts from his Journal. vol. 3: online. Extracts from Mr. Gibbon's Journal; A Collection of his Remarks, and detached pieces, on different Subjects; Outlines of the History of the World; Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature; Critical Observations on the Sixth Book of The Aenid; Dissertation sur l'Homme au Masque de Fer; Mémoir Justificatif; A Vindication; Antiquities of the House of Brunswick; An Address &c.
  • 7 vols. octavo (Basel: J.J. Tourneisen). vols. 1-5 contain the London edition minus the French to English translations. vols. 6-7 incorporate the French to English translations, and a reprint of the 1764 English translation of the Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature (not in the London edition).
  • SECOND edition: 5 vols. octavo (London: J. Murray, 1814[14][15]). proclaiming itself "a new edition with considerable additions," and grouped topically by Sheffield.
    • Volume I, Memoirs and Letters: online
      • Memoirs of my Life and Writings;
      • Letters to and from Edward Gibbon, Esq.;
      • Abstract of Mr. Gibbon's Will.
    • Volume II, Letters: online
      • Letters to and from Edward Gibbon, Esq.
      • Lettre sur le gouvernement de Berne (Norman: 1758–59; Pocock: 1764) ["Letter No. IX. Mr. Gibbon to *** on the Government of Berne." also appears with English translation in FIRST edition, Vol. 1, pp. 388–413]. a fictional letter from a Swedish diarist to a Swiss friend comparing the governments of Bern and early Rome. Employing language undeniably influenced by Montesquieu, Gibbon observes that Bern in adopting an oligarchic form similar to the Venetian, has omitted any incorporation of the separation of powers, in doing so has ignored the "principles of liberty," and therefore stands on the brink of despotism. Pocock identifies the Lettre as Gibbon's "first essay on empire in the context of European history." By this time, Gibbon has clearly adopted erudition as "the dominant interest of his young and his mature life."[16] Sheffield's preface intones, "The excellence of this curious paper will apologize for its great length." (31 octavo pages including translation).
    • Volume III, Historical and Critical: online
      • Outlines of the History of the World;
      • Mémoire sur la Monarchie de Mèdes (1768);
      • Les Principales Epoques de l'Histoire de la Grèce et de l'Egypte, suivant Sir Isaac Newton (1758);
      • Extrait de trois Mémoires de M. L'Abbé de la Bleterie sur la Succession de l'Empire Romain (1758);
      • Remarques Critiques sur le Nombre des Habitans dans la Cité des Sybarites;
      • Gouvernement Féodal, surtout en France (1768);
      • Relation des Noces de Charles Duc de Bourgogne (1768);
      • Critical Researches concerning the Title of Charles the Eighth to the Crown of Naples (1761);
      • An Account of a Letter addressed to Cocchi by chevalier L.G. Aretino (1764);
      • An Examination of [Paul Henri] Mallet's Introduction to the History of Denmark (1764);
      • Introduction à l'Histoire générale de la République des Suisses (1765–67); in Gibbon's own estimation, "a slight and superficial essay" not finished because of his uneasy comprehension of the gap between medieval Swiss and general European historiography.[17]
      • Remarques touchant les Doutes Historiques sur la Vie et le Règne du Roi Richard III. Par M. Horace Walpole. (1768);
      • Antiquities of the House of Brunswick (1790-1791-Craddock);
      • An Address recommending Mr. John Pinkerton [to publish] the "Scriptores Rerum Anglicarum," our Latin Memorials of the Middle Ages (1793)* as An Address &c. see same title above under FIRST edition, Volume II.
      • Appendix to an Address explanatory, &c. by Mr. Pinkerton.
    • Volume IV, Classical and Critical: online
      • Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature;
      • On the Character of Brutus (1765-66-Craddock; 1769-Ghosh)* as Digression on the Character of Brutus;
      • On Mr. [Richard] Hurd's Commentary on Horace (1762)* as Hurd on Horace;
      • Nomina Gentesque Antiquae Italiae [aka Recueil sur la Géographie ancienne de l'Italie] (1763–64);
      • An Inquiry whether a Catalogue of the Armies sent into the Field is an essential part of an Epic Poem (1763);
      • An Examination of the Catalogue of Silius Italicus (1763);
      • A Minute Examination of Horace's Journey to Brundusium and of Cicero's Journey into Cilicia (1763);
      • On the Fasti of Ovid (1764);
      • On the Triumphs of the Romans (1764);
      • On the Triumphal Shows and Ceremonies (1764);
      • Remarques sur les Ouvrages et sur le Caractère de Salluste;
      • ——————— de Jules César;
      • ——————— de Cornelius Nepos;
      • ——————— de Tite Live (1756);
      • Remarques Critiques sur un Passage de Plaute (1757);
      • Remarques sur quelques Endroits de Virgile (1757);
      • Critical Observations on [the Design of] the Sixth Book of the Aeneid (1770);
      • Postscript to Ditto;
      • A Vindication of some Passages in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1779).
    • Volume V, Miscellaneous: online
      • Mémoir Justificatif Pour Servir de Réponse a l'Exposé, etc., de la Cour de France (1779);
      • Dissertation on the Allegorical Beings found on the reverses of Medals (1764);
      • Account of a MS. by the Abbé G.V. Gravina, del Governo Civile di Roma (1764);
      • Dissertation on the subject of l'Homme au Masque de Fer (1774);
      • Observations sur les Mémoires Posthumes de M. de Chéseaux (1756);
      • Remarques sur quelques Prodiges (1757);
      • Remarques Critiques sur les Dignités Sacerdotales de Jules César (1757);
      • Principes des Poids, des Monnoies, et des Mesures des Anciens (1759);
      • Dissertation sur les Anciennes Mesures &c. (1759-Sheffield; 1768-Ghosh);
      • On the Position of the Meridional Line, and the supposed Circumnavigation of Africa by the Ancients (1790 or 1791-Sheffield; 1789-90-Craddock)* as The Circumnavigation of Africa;
      • Selections from Mr. Gibbon's Extraits Raisonnés de mes Lectures, from the Journal, from the Receuil de mes Observations, et Pièces Détachées, Common-Place Books*, and Memoranda;
      • Remarks on Blackstone's Commentaries (1770)* as Abstract of 'Commentaries'..by Blackstone;
      • Index Expurgatorius (1768–69)*;
      • Observations on Augerii Gislenii Busbequii Omnia quae extent;
      • Notes and Additions to [Edward] Harewood's View of the various Editions of the Greek and Roman Classics (1793)* as Annotations in Har[]wood;
      • Appendix to the Treatise on the Position of the Meridional Line and the supposed Circumnavigation of Africa by the Ancients.
  • THIRD edition, 1 vol. quarto (London: J. Murray, April 4, 1815). contains all the new material from the second London edition printed in the first edition's quarto format in order to create a complete three-volume quarto set.

Other writings[edit]

  • General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West (1772) online. first published at the end of volume III (1781) of the Decline and Fall
  • Notes on Modern Europe (1777)*
  • Codice Diplomatico (1790)*
  • Materials for a Seventh Volume (1790–91)*
  • Notes on the Antiquity of the English Universities (1789–91)*
  • Marginalia in Herodotus (1789)*
  • Habsburgica (1792–93)*

See also[edit]



  • Bonnard, Georges A., ed. Edward Gibbon: Memoirs of my Life (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1969;1966). cited as 'Bonnard, Memoirs'.
  • Craddock, Patricia, ed. The English Essays of Edward Gibbon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). cited as 'Craddock, EEEG'.
  • Ghosh, P.R., "Gibbon's Dark Ages: some Remarks on the Genesis of the 'Decline and Fall'," Journal of Roman Studies 73(1983), 1-23. cited as 'Ghosh, "Gibbon's Dark Ages"'.
  • Murray, John, ed. The Autobiographies of Edward Gibbon (London: J. Murray, 1896). includes "Memoranda and Fragments," and "Will of Edward Gibbon Made in 1788." cited as 'Murray, Autobiographies'. online
  • Norton, J.E., ed. A Bibliography of the Works of Edward Gibbon (New York: Burt Franklin Co., 1970;1940). cited as 'Norton, Biblio'.
  • Pocock, J.G.A. Barbarism and Religion, vol. 1: The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon, 1737–1764 (Cambridge: 1999). cited as 'Pocock, EEG'.
  • Trevor-Roper, Hugh, "Gibbon's Last Project," in Edward Gibbon Bicentenary Essays (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 1997), 405-419. cited as 'Trevor-Roper, "Gibbon's Last Project"'.
  • Womersley, David. Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City': the Historian and his Reputation, 1776–1815 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002). cited as 'Womersley, Watchmen'.
    • Womersley, "Gibbon, Edward (1737–1794)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 22, H.C.G. Matthew; Brian Harrison, eds. (Oxford: 2004), 8-18. cited as 'Womersley, ODNB'.
First Edition, Volume I, 1796
  1. ^translated in Pocock, EEG, p. 228.
  2. ^the full title of 1796 (and in square brackets, that of 1814) is, [The] Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon, Esquire; [Esq.] with Memoirs of his Life and Writings, composed by himself.[:] Illustrated from his Letters, with occasional notes and narrative, by [the Right Honourable] John, Lord Sheffield. in Two Volumes [a New Edition, with Considerable Additions in Five Volumes].
  3. ^sources for this data are Sheffield's tables of contents; Norton, Biblio; Craddock, EEEG; and Ghosh, "Gibbon's Dark Ages."
  4. ^precise days of publication in all cases from Norton, Biblio.
  5. ^Norton, Biblio, p. 197.
  6. ^Womersley, Watchmen, at 235-236, 240, and 346-349.
  7. ^Bonnard, Memoirs, "Preface," vii-xxxiii, at xxxi. The manuscript originals are all contained, with one small exception, in the British Museum, Gibbon Papers, Add. MSS 34874 (p. xiii). As to why Gibbon exercised six attempts to recount his life on paper, Bonnard opines that he was repeatedly dissatisfied with subject order and length. But from draft to draft, where Gibbon met with self-approval, he "very often contented himself with simply copying what he had already written." (p. xxiv.)
  8. ^Murray, Autobiographies.
  9. ^Gibbon, Memoirs, ¶"The design of my first work;"  ¶"Two years elapsed in silence."
  10. ^Womersley, ODNB, p. 11; Norton, Biblio, p. 3. additional background in: Peter Ghosh, "Gibbon's First Thoughts: Rome, Christianity and the Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature 1758–61," Journal of Roman Studies 85(1995), 148–164; Pocock, EEG, chapter 9, "The 'Essai sur l'Étude de la Littérature': imagination, irony and history," 208-239; Brian Norman, chapter 4 in "The Influence of Switzerland on the Life and Writings of Edward Gibbon," Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century [SVEC] v.2002:03, (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2002), 44-61.
  11. ^Harrison seems certain to have also printed the first edition for "official purposes and not for general circulation." Norton, Biblio, 28-29.
  12. ^Craddock, EEEG, 534-545, at pp. 545, 538-40, 542, 544-45, 600. see also Norton, Biblio, 179-81. At this juncture, Pinkerton's reputation had been decidedly mixed: part serious antiquarian enjoying the patronage of Horace Walpole, part near buffoon whose work could evoke "hilarity" and "ridicule." Gibbon eventually chose to prefer the former, believing that "the volatile and fiery particles of his nature have been discharged [leaving] a pure and solid substance endowed with many active and useful energies." Craddock, EEEG, p. 542; Trevor-Roper, "Gibbon's Last Project," pp. 407, 414.
  13. ^Norton, Biblio, p. 197; 203-204.
  14. ^actually published in 1815, no later than Feb. 15.  Ibid., p. 195.
  15. ^"Review of The Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon ... A New Edition, with considerable Additions. 1815". The Quarterly Review. 12: 368–391. January 1815. 
  16. ^Pocock, EEG, pp. 89-91, 93. Additional background from Brian Norman, chapter 2 in "The Influence of Switzerland on the Life and Writings of Edward Gibbon," Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century [SVEC] v.2002:03, (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2002), 21-32. Norman claims "certainty" of his dating of the work based on a close analysis of Gibbon's scriptional accentuation (pp. 30–31).
  17. ^Ghosh, "Gibbon's Dark Ages," p. 8.

Note: This blog post was originally published on Jan. 19, 2017, and as it is one of our most popular posts, we have updated it to include the latest research, up-to-date statistics and best practices in this topic.

Ruby Newell-Legner’s book, Understanding Customers, tells us that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.

The thing is, as much as we try and prevent them – and boy, do we try – negative experiences are still bound to pop up every once in a while. When they do, we can put our best foot forward and begin to make amends by apologizing to our customers.

Many companies dread writing apology letters to customers out of fear of admitting wrongdoing or accepting blame for an unpleasant situation. However, an apology is not the end of the world – in fact, it is far from it.

A successful apology can turn a negative experience into a positive one, an upset customer into a loyal one, and a bad reputation into a great one. Here are some examples of apology letters for poor service, so that you will know what to do should your business need to respond to a similar situation.

  • Apologizing for Poor Customer Treatment

    Did your customer lose an hour of their day being transferred from representative to representative to solve a seemingly simple issue? Is your customer upset after an experience with a rude and unhelpful employee or manager?

    Strategic management consulting company, McKinsey, reported that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. No matter who is in the “right” in a complicated situation, it is important to give the customer a sincere apology.

    Let’s compare two examples of an apology letter to a customer who feels that he or she has been treated unfairly:

    In this example, Ashley was very vague when approaching the customer’s issue. Instead of empathizing with Catherine, she tried to shift the blame to the customer’s phone service provider, and deny the company’s role in Catherine’s bad experience. In the end, Ashley left the issue unresolved, and the customer unsatisfied.

    Let’s have a look at what happens when we try that again:

    By being specific about what happened and addressing exactly what Catherine’s negative experience was, Ashley came across as compassionate and understanding of the customer’s issue. She validated and related to Catherine’s feelings, and showed her the steps that the company would take to ensure that the inconvenience would not happen again. She even gave Catherine her personal contact information so that she could reach her directly in the future. Great job, Ashley!

    • Say sorry and express sincere regret.
    • Be specific about what happened.
    • Validate and relate to the customer’s feelings.
    • Show what steps your company will take to make sure the inconvenience won’t happen again.
    • Give your customer your contact information for extra measure.
    • Be vague.
    • Make excuses or shift blame.
    • Leave the issue unresolved.
  • Apologizing for a Damaged or Defective Product or Service

    Research by Bain and Company shows that acquiring a new customer is anywhere between five and 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.

    When we are approached by a customer who is upset by a defective product or service, responding with a professional apology that offers the customer a hassle-free solution is an important part of ensuring customer retention.

    Which of these two example apologies do you think did it better?

    In this first example, Janis seems to be looking for the quickest way to take Zachary’s issue off her plate. She refunded him without further question and redirected him to the website, leaving him more likely to abandon his purchase given this annoying extra step. She also left him without a solution as far as what to do with the damaged product.

    Let’s see if we can fix things with Zachary:

    This time, Janis provided the customer with a hassle-free replacement. She explained the company’s procedures for quality checks, helping Zachary rest assured that he could expect his product to arrive fully functional next time. After gauging how upset Zachary was about his defective purchase, she went the extra mile to show him that his satisfaction mattered by offering him a complimentary coupon.

    • Explain why the defect/damage was a one-time occurrence.
    • Provide the customer with a hassle-free replacement.
    • Gauge how upset the customer is – if needed, offer the customer a care token, such as a discount, to show that you care about their loyalty and satisfaction.
    • Make the customer take extra steps on their own that you could easily help them with, such as reordering a product.
  • Apologizing for Delayed or Improper Shipping

    There are several scenarios in which a customer might receive an item that was shipped late or improperly. Maybe an item that was reported as “available” on the website is actually out of stock. Maybe a snowstorm delayed shipment.

    Whatever the case, follow our next good apology example, and avoid the bad one.

    Here, Edward failed to give Alice any sort of information about what caused the shipping delay and when her product would arrive. By telling her to check back later, Edward created one unsatisfied customer who would find herself once again waiting in the dreaded queue for any answers.

    Let’s try that again:

    In this example, Edward explained the reason for the delayed shipment, and showed awareness and concern for the inconvenience that he knew it would cause Alice. He presented Alice with a plan to get her the product as soon as possible, and gave her details about when it would be in stock. Finally, by including the link to shipment updates and tracking, Edward gave Alice the tools that she needed to accompany the progress of her order without needing to contact customer service again. Nice work, Edward!

    • Explain why the shipment was delayed.
    • Show that you realize and care about the inconvenience that this may have caused.
    • Present the customer with a plan to get them their product as soon as possible.
    • Include a link to shipment updates and tracking.
    • Be vague about the cause for the shipping delay.
    • Be vague about when the customer will receive their shipment.
  • Apologizing for Billing Issues

    Billing issues can be very frustrating for a customer who has placed an order with your company. Yet, it is a very common error. Should a billing issue arise, be sure to contact your customer as soon as it comes to your attention.

    Here is a sample poor billing error apology, and how to fix it:

    In this apology letter, Katie renounced responsibility of the billing error, and revealed a lack of expertise in her company’s system by asking Megan to respond with sensitive information that was not needed to complete the refund (Check our tips in case you need to say no to a refund request from customers.) You can make this sort of apology more professional by writing the following:

    This time, Katie’s apology was sincere and precise. By telling Megan what was going on with the system, Katie made sure that she and the customer were on the same page. In refunding her quickly and without hesitation, Katie also spared Megan the worry and stress of wondering if she would ever get her money back.

    • If possible, explain the reason for the billing error.
    • Provide the customer an immediate refund if double charged.
    • Renounce connection to or responsibility for what happened.
    • Ask your customer for information that you don’t need.
    • Ask the customer to send you sensitive information online.
  • Apologizing for a Product Recall

    From canned food products to Samsung Galaxy’s Note7 recall, product recalls are a common source of both public and personalized customer apology letters.

    Should your company have a product that needs to be recalled, use these example letters as guidelines to know what to do and what not to do when composing your own letter of apology.

    As you can see from this letter, John is an apology novice. He made excuses for his product, potentially frightened his customers with ominous details, and failed to provide his customers with a long or short-term solution. With a letter like this, why should his customers stay loyal to his brand? Let’s see if we can change this up:

    This time, John excelled in letting his customers know that they are his priority. By evoking his company’s mission statement, he simultaneously reminded buyers of why they were loyal to the company and characterized the recall as a rare incident. By giving his customers specific information on the recall and how to act, John took the first step in regaining trust between his business and his customers.

    • Make your customer feel valued.
    • Present your company’s mission statement and how this statement relates to the recall situation.
    • Give specifics about the recall.
    • Give affected customers exact information on how to act.
    • Make excuses.
    • Frighten your customer with ominous details.
    • Give vague information that does not provide a solution.
  • Apologizing for Canceling a Service or Event

    It is important for your company to apologize for the inconvenience that a cancelation of a service or event can cause customers. Like product recalls, cancelations can happen for a number of reasons, such as customer safety (such as with a flight), poor customer turnout or ratings (such as with a TV program), or the absence of a key participant in an event (such as in a workshop). Take a look at these final examples of business apology letters for cancelling a service or event.

    In this instance, Brian’s apology letter was very impersonal. It also left the customer unsure of if, when, or how he would recuperate the money that he paid for a seat at this event. Here is Brian’s second try:

    This time, the apology letter was specific about the events surrounding the cancelation. Given both the quick reimbursement and the mention of rescheduling the event, Brian left Alexander with a good impression of his company’s efficiency and organizational skills. By including a link to the schedule of upcoming workshops, Brian managed to turn this letter of apology into an opportunity to promote future events.

    • Show your customer that they are a vital part of your company’s success.
    • Reimburse your customer immediately.
    • Let your customer know if and when the event can be rescheduled.
    • Offer your customer other options.
    • Keep the reason for the cancelation from the customer.
    • Leave your customer unclear as to when and how they will be reimbursed.
  • [Free Download] The Guide to Becoming a Top Performing Live Chat Operator

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    When we write an apology letter to a customer, we are forced to reflect on our mission statement and brand identity, and to address how we are or are not meeting the customer’s needs. Ultimately, by crafting the perfect apology letter we show that we are willing to address life’s difficult moments head-on, and to put customer satisfaction first and foremost.

    Check your company’s past apology letters and see how they compare to these examples. It’s never too late to become an apology master. For more information, be sure to read our blog post, How to Apologize to Customers Effectively.

    What other apologies would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

    About Isabella Steele

    Isabella is a freelance editor, writer, and blogger with Comm100. She is passionate about helping people, teams, and organizations grow into their full potential, and excel in their service. In her spare time, you can find her traveling, painting, or drinking copious amounts of coconut water. Connect with Isabella on LinkedIn.

    [Free Download] The Guide to Becoming a Top Performing Live Chat Operator

    No matter what your customer service channel is, top performing operators always receive high customer satisfaction rate. Here is a practical guide for live chat agents to communicating effectively, addressing customer issues efficiently, and representing your brand professionally.

    Download Free

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