English Business


English 205

Memo Assignment: Explaining Letter Revision


To reflect critically on the rhetorical choices involved in the communication process


This two-part assignment asks you to imagine that you are the manager of Manhattan Galleries. Your new assistant has just written a letter responding to a customer’s claim that her painting was delivered with sags in the canvas. You instructed your assistant to write a positive adjustment letter that would offer to reimburse the customer for the cost of having the canvas re-stretched at her local framing shop. This client could be an important source of future business and referrals for you. You are dismayed when you read your assistant’s letter, which needs substantial revision before you would consider sending it to a customer.

Part One of this assignment requires you to annotate (NOT rewrite) your assistant’s letter (attached), employing all the strategies you have learned about how to write an effective letter to a customer. Keep in mind that your goals in an adjustment letter are (1) to rectify the wrong, (2) to regain the confidence of the customer, and (3) to promote further business. Your notations need to be clear. Remember that your assistant will use your notations to improve the letter, so be specific.

Part Two asks you to write a memo to your assistant that you will attach to the annotated letter. In the memo, explain to your assistant why you made the changes you did. Your goal in doing so is to help her learn how to write more effective customer letters. You will not be able to review all of her future letters. Therefore, you want to be certain she understands how to communicate with customers. When writing the memo, keep in mind that your assistant is a valuable employee. You want to provide feedback and instruction without damaging morale.


· Refer to Chapters 3 and 4 for style and content guidelines.

· Provide detailed notations on “Sally’s” letter. Keep the facts the same as in the original, but do not rewrite the letter. That is Sally’s job.

· Do not exceed 1.5 pages, single spaced for your memo. Consider using graphic highlighting (e.g., bullets, numbering, boldface type) to make your points more readable.

· Address the memo to your assistant, Sally Cantwright.

· Use the drafting process even though only the final version of the memo (with annotated letter attached) will be collected in class. Consider exchanging drafts with your peers or going to the Learning Resource Center.

· Staple the annotated letter to your memo.

Manhattan Galleries

115 West Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010



March 4, 2013

Ms. Sharon Jensen

The Jensen Group

2459 Hooper Avenue

Miami, FL 44787

Dear Ms. Jensen:

Your letter has been referred to me for reply. You claim that the painting recently sent by Manhattan Galleries arrived with sags in the canvas and that you are unwilling to hang it in your company’s executive offices.

I have examined your complaint carefully, and, frankly, I find it difficult to believe because we are so careful about shipping, but if what you say is true, I suspect that the shipper may be the source of your problem. We give explicit instructions to our shippers that large paintings must be shipped standing up, not lying down. We also wrap every painting in two layers of convoluted foam and one layer of Perf-Pack foam, which we think should be sufficient to withstand any bumps and scrapes that negligent shipping may cause. We will certainly look into this.

Although it is against our policy, we will in this instance allow you to take this painting to a local framing shop for re-stretching. We are proud that we can offer fine works of original art at incredibly low prices, and you can be sure that we do not send out sagging canvasses.


Sally Cantwright

Assistant Manager

(This letter is adapted from Mary Ellen Guffey’s Business Communication: Process & Product, 6th ed.)

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