Write brief bad news email

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Instructions: Use what you have learned in this class about business writing (audience awareness, concision, precision, directness, simplicity, etc.) and craft a bad news email (see scenarios below). Make sure that this email follows the content and structure guidelines in the “Email Writing” Powerpoint that we went over in class.

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Format: Please format this assignment like an email, including a “To:” line, a “From:” line and – importantly – a “Subject:” line. Also, please end with an appropriate closing. You will lose points if you fail to format this properly. Example:

To: Mary Smith

From: John Doe

Subject: Informative, attention-grabbing subject line that you write

Dear Mary,

Your message in here.

All the best/Sincerely/some appropriate closing,

John Doe


Scenarios (select ONE of the following scenarios to use):

All scenarios were adapted from Guffey, Rhodes and Rogin, Business Communication: Process and Product, South-Western College Pub (2011).

1. Request Refusal: Carnival Rejects Under-21 Crowd

The world’s largest cruise line finds itself in a difficult position. Carnival climbed to the number one spot by promoting fun at sea and pitching its appeal to younger customers who were drawn to onboard discos, swim-up bars, and hassle-free partying. But apparently the partying of high school and college students went too far. Roving bands of teens had virtually taken over some cruises in recent years. Travel agents complained of “drunken, loud behavior,” as reported by Mike Driscall, editor of Cruise Week.

To crack down, Carnival raised the drinking age from 18 to 21 and required more chaperoning of school groups. But young individual travelers were still unruly and disruptive. Thus, Carnival instituted a new policy, effective immediately. No one under 21 may travel unless accompanied by an adult over 25. Says Vicki Freed, Carnival’s vice president for marketing, “We will turn them back at the docks, and they will not get refunds.”

You are a fairly new assistant director of marketing at Carnival, and your boss has told you to answer an email inquiry from Sheryl Kiklas of All-World Travel, a travel agency that features special spring-and summer-break packages for college and high school students. Sheryl is trying to book a cruise for the entire cheerleading, dance squad, and football teams from Large Urban University, the recent winners of the American Athletic Conference football title. Sheryl is talking about nearly 200 student athletes, several dozen more students who support the team as managers and trainers, and about two dozen coaches – essentially, a party cruise for college football players and cheerleaders. All-World Travel has been one of Carnival’s best customers. However, Carnival no longer wants to encourage unaccompanied young people. You must refuse the request of Ms. Kiklas to help set up student tour packages. Carnival discourages even chaperoned tours. Its target market is now families. You must write to All-World Travel and break the bad news. Try to promote fun-filled, carefree cruises destined for sunny, exotic ports of call that remove guests from the stresses of everyday life. By the way, Carnival attracts more passengers than any other cruise line – more than 1 million people a year from all over the world. More than 98 percent of Carnival’s guests say that they were well satisfied.

Your Task: Write an email to Sheryl Kiklas, All-World Travel Agency, skiklas@allworldtravel.com, politely declining the booking of Large Urban University’s athletic teams and informing her of Carnival’s shift in focus from young pleasure seekers to families; also let her know that you would like to continue Carnival’s business relationship with All-World.

2. Damage Control for Disappointed Customers: J. Crew Goofs on Cashmere Turtleneck

Who wouldn’t want a cashmere zip turtleneck sweater for $18? At the J. Crew website, many delighted shoppers scrambled to order the bargain cashmere. Unfortunately, the price should have been $218! Before J. Crew officials could correct the mistake, several hundred shoppers had bagged the bargain sweater for their digital carts.

When the mistake was discovered, J. Crew immediately sent an e-mail to the soon-to-be disappointed shoppers. The subject line shouted “Big Mistake!” Emily Woods, chair of J. Crew, began her message with this statement: “I wish we could sell such an amazing sweater for only $18. Our price mistake on your new cashmere zip turtleneck probably went right by you, but rather than charge you such a large difference, I’m writing to alert you that this item has been removed from your recent order.”

As an assistant in the communication department at J. Crew, you saw the e-mail message that was sent to customers, and you tactfully suggested that the bad news might have been broken differently. Your boss says, “OK, hot stuff. Give it your best shot.”

Your Task: Although you have only a portion of the message, analyze the customer bad-news message sent by J. Crew Chair Emily Woods and write an improved version. In the end, J. Crew decided to allow customers who ordered the sweater at $18 to reorder it for $118.80 to $130.80 (depending on size), and you can use this information in your message. (Customers were given a special order code at checkout to claim one of the discounted sweaters.) Remember that J. Crew customers are youthful and hip. Keep your message upbeat.

3. Bad News to Employees: No Go for Tuition Reimbursement

Ashley Arnett, a hardworking bank teller, has sent a request asking that the company create a program to reimburse the tuition and book expenses for employees taking college courses. Although some companies have such a program, your organization – Fox Federal Credit Union – has not felt that it could indulge in such an expensive employee perk. Moreover, the CEO is not convinced that companies see any direct benefit from such a program. Employees improve their educational credentials and skills, but what is to keep them from moving that education and skill set to another employer? Your company has over 200 employees. If even a fraction of them started classes, the company could see a huge bill for the cost of tuition and books. Because the organization is facing stiff competition and its profits are sinking, the expense of such a program is out of the question. In addition, it would involve administration – applications, monitoring, and record keeping. It is just too much of a hassle. When employees were hard to hire and retain, companies had to offer employment perks. But with a soft economy, such inducements are unnecessary.

Your Task: As director of human resources, send an individual response to Ashley Arnett. The answer is a definite no, but you want to soften the blow and retain the loyalty of the conscientious employee.

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