How a few details can change your message and make it much more friendly

Manchmal ist es nur eine kleine Umstellung im Satzbau oder in der Reihenfolge Ihrer Sätze, und schon bekommt Ihre E-Mail eine ganz andere Aussage. Frischen Sie für solch kleine Finessen jetzt mit Secretary Today regelmäßig Ihr Englisch auf. Egal, ob Sie Englisch-Anfängerin oder Englisch-Profi sind. Testen Sie eine Ausgabe prallvoll mit professionellem Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen jetzt kostenlos!

Karen P. from Regensburg asked me to check the text of an email she had written for a customer. This is what she wrote:

"Ich möchte dem Kunden mitteilen, dass wir laut Vertragsbedingung 95 % vom Auftrag berechnen, da die Ware versandbereit ist, aber aufgrund von Problemen, die nicht von uns zu vertreten sind, noch nicht verschickt werden können.

Ich habe das so formuliert: According to the conditions of contract we charge 95 % of the contract value, because your order is ready for shipping, but for reasons beyond our control the goods can not be sent."

I have five comments to make

1 "We charge" is simple present tense, which you use when you talk about your general pricing policy. Look at the overview of when to use present  simple and present continuous at the bottom of this page to find out more.
2 I wouldn’t use the verb to charge but to invoice, which sounds more indirect and more professional.
3 You don’t say "according to" but "in accordance with".

What’s the difference?
"According to" does mean "laut" but has a slightly different focus. Here are some examples:

  • According to the weather forecast, it’s going to rain tomorrow.
  • The gospel according to St. John is the last of the four gospels.
  • According to this morning’s news, we’re out of the recession.

Karen P. should say "in accordance with" which is what you use when you talk about contracts.

4 This one is just cosmetic. I have put the good news at the start of the message. Then I’ve sandwiched the bad news in the middle, before ending on the positive note of the 5% rebate.
5 I don’t like the phrase "reasons beyond our control". It sounds like a weak excuse. Instead state the reason briefly.

Here is the new version

Your consignment is ready for shipment, but due to a fire in the warehouse, it cannot be shipped at this time. Therefore, in accordance with the terms of the contract, we will only be invoicing you for 95 % of the order value.

Here you will find a short overview to remind you when to use the present simple tense and when to use present continuous.