Speak Business English Like an American » LESSON 9 - Dealing with a Dissatisfied Customer

John hired Kevin s web design firm to design a website for his company, but John s not satisfied with the end result.

John: We're disappointed with the website you designed for us. It's a far cry from what we were expecting.

Kevin: I'm sorry you're not satisfied. We really went all out to make it a great site.

John: Well, I'm not going to mince words. You charged us a pretty penny, and you didn't deliver.

Kevin: Wow, I'm really surprised to hear you say that! We pulled out all the stops.

John: Don't try to pull the wool over my eyes. You promised that your best people would work on this project, but our website looks like it was designed by a summer intern!

Kevin: What exactly is the problem with the site?

John: Where to begin? The shopping cart doesn't even work.

Kevin: Really? Well, we'll get right on that.

John: And you guys messed around forever getting the site done. You were three months behind schedule!

Kevin: I'm sorry about that. We were swamped. Let me make it up to you. We'll give you a 25 percent discount on the project.

  • a far cry from
    different than; not at all like; much less than
    EXAMPLE: Cisco Systems' stock may be trading higher, but it's still a far cry from where it was in 2000.
  • (to) go all out
    to make a big effort; to try hard
    EXAMPLE: The small gift shop went all out on advertising in December, trying to increase its holiday sales.
  • (to) mince words
    to control one's language so as to be polite
    EXAMPLE: Sue told you your new product idea was "the stupidest idea she's ever heard?" Clearly she's not one to mince words!

    NOTE: Mince has two main meanings: in this expression, it means "to make less harsh." It also means "to chop foods into tiny pieces."

  • pretty penny
    a lot of money; too much money (when referring to the cost of something)
    EXAMPLE: Ruth made a pretty penny selling antiques on eBay.
  • (to) deliver
    to meet expectations or requirements of a task, project, or job
    EXAMPLE: You made a lot of promises during your job interview here. Now that you're hired, I hope you can deliver!
  • (to) pull out all the stops
    to use all one's resources to get something done; to try very hard
    EXAMPLE: Many airline companies are pulling out all the stops to win the right to fly direct to China.

    ORIGIN: This expression comes from the world of music. To increase the volume of a pipe organ, organists pull out stops (levers that control the volume).

  • (to) pull the wool over one's eyes
    to deceive someone
    EXAMPLE: Are you telling me the truth or are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes?

    ORIGIN: In in the 17th and 18th centuries, men sometimes wore wigs. The "wool" refers to the wig (made of wool). Pulling the wool over the eyes made it impossible to see.

  • Where to begin?
    There is so much to say, I have to think about where to start (usually used when you're about to complain and you want to stress that there's a lot to complain about).
    EXAMPLE: Your new marketing campaign has so many problems. Where to begin?
  • (to) get right on something
    to take care of something immediately
    EXAMPLE: You need my help in finding a new office to lease? I'll get right on that.
  • (to) mess around
    to waste time; to spend time with no particular purpose or goal
    EXAMPLE: We don't have time to mess around with the design for the packaging. Let's just design it quickly and get it into production!
  • (to be) swamped
    to have too much work to do; to be extremely busy
    EXAMPLE: Accounting firms are swamped during tax season.
  • (to) make it up to you
    to do something to compensate you for your trouble
    EXAMPLE: I'm sorry that you weren't happy with the sign we made for your business. Let me make it up to you and make a new sign for you at no charge.
Practice The Idioms

Fill in the blanks using the following idioms:

  • mince words
  • pull the wool over my eyes
  • make it up to you
  • a far cry from
  • pretty penny
  • pulled out all the stops
  • deliver
  • Where to begin

Linda: We're never going to use Donna's Delights Catering again! You promised you'd do a great job with our holiday party, but you didn't (1) ___________.

Donna: Oh, really? What exactly was the problem?

Linda: (2)___________? There were so many problems! First of all, the main course was (3)___________ what we were expecting. I'm not going to (4)___________ The steak you served us tasted like rubber!

Donna: I'm really surprised. I put my best chef on this project, and we bought the best steak available. We (5)___________

Linda: I have a feeling you're trying to (6)___________ I know my steak, and I know the steak you served was low quality.

Donna: Well, I guess it's possible we ordered the wrong meat.

Linda: You charged us a (7)___________ for your services, and you did a lousy job. We won't be using your company anymore.

Donna: I'm sorry. Let me (8)___________ .We'll bring free lunch for your entire office next Friday.

Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. deliver
  2. Where to begin
  3. a far cry from
  4. mince words
  5. pulled out all the stops
  6. pull the wool over my eyes
  7. pretty penny
  8. make it up to you
Answer Key
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