Home Apologize How to apologize for something outside of your control

How to apologize for something outside of your control

How to apologize for something outside of your control

See also:

  • 😡 How to talk to an angry customer or client
  • How to apologize for the inability to do something

Start Here

  • You’ve found yourself in the unenviable position of a rock and a hard place. Now, you have to tell the rock (or the hard place) that you can’t do what they want you to do.
  • There are many reasons why you may not be able to do what they want:
  • It’s against policy
  • It’s against the law
  • It’s against the law of physics
  • Natural disasters
  • Lack of skills or tools
  • Lack of stock
  • Whims of fate
  • Unnatural disasters
  • Here’s the cold hard truth: most of the time, they don’t care about the why. That’s not to say it isn’t important, but this conversation requires the proper framing so that it doesn’t come across as you telling them, “not my fault, not my problem.”
  • Acknowledging their concern is the most important part of the apology.
  • Offer a brief explanation, but focus on the things inside your (and their) control.

Talking Points

  1. Dear <Name>, I’m sorry to have to tell you that due to <the thing outside of your control>, I can not/no longer <impact to them>.
  2. I know this is not ideal and understand any frustration you may feel.
  3. Even though I may not be able to <one-liner of the thing outside your control>, what I can do for you is <description of what you can do for them>. OR
  4. Even though we may not be able to <one-liner of the thing outside your control>, I encourage you to <description of what they can do>.
  5. <Offer additional details about what you can do for them (discounts, free trial, replacement product, bottle of wine, etc.)>
  6. Thank you for your patience as we worked with you on this issue.


The COVID Pandemic has led to global inventory constraints. An example of how this has affected the company is difficulty receiving certain types of raw materials.

A customer has called angry about the delay to his order as a result of this plastic shortage. He wants a guarantee that his order will be delivered by the end of the week. The problem is that we can’t get the required raw material in stock and we don’t know when we’ll be able to ship the order.
• As you may be aware, the coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on supply chains and the availability of certain supplies like plastics.
• Unfortunately, the plastic shortages caused by the coronavirus have impacted the availability and supply of [product/supply].
• Our experts are hard at work identifying a solution.
• We recognize that this is not ideal, and we ask for your continued patience throughout this process.
• We plan on providing an update on this issue with you by [set up follow-up date and time].


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