Cancel or Postpone an Appointment by Letter
From time to time we all need to cancel or postpone an appointment due to unforeseen circumstances and, for the most part, we can do this verbally over the phone or in person.
There are, however, occasions where it’s necessary to confirm this in writing. Sometimes it is mandatory and other times we may simply do this as a courtesy gesture or to provide ourselves with written confirmation as back-up that we have cancelled or postponed an appointment in case there might be legal ramifications and/or charges attached if a company, for example, decides to take action against us for failing to notify them.
More often than not, charges or legal action associated with cancellations tend to be with regard to purchase agreements we have entered into and not appointments we have failed to keep. However, as a precautionary measure, it makes sense to send a written notification in these instances too in order to avoid any confusion. For example, you may cancel a dental appointment over the phone but, for whatever reason, it might not have been entered onto the system correctly and you might find yourself receiving a letter down the track in which your dentist is charging you a fee for your apparent ‘failure’ to keep the appointment.
On the other hand, letters of this kind are often sent as a courtesy and to allow others to amend their diaries and also to, perhaps, make the most of their busy schedule. This will often be associated with business where a meeting might be arranged but where one of the parties involved have to cancel or postpone for some reason.
A letter informing somebody of your need to cancel or postpone an appointment can be quite brief. You should firstly apologise that you cannot honour the appointment and state the date and time that it was due to take place. It’s also courteous to state the reason why you have had to postpone or cancel. If it’s a postponement, you should give the recipient a date and time you can re-arrange it for, or, alternatively, it is often better to ask them to get back to you with an alternative date and time.
These letters can be formal or informal depending on your relationship with the recipient. Obviously, you should send this type of letter as soon as you know that you will be unable to keep the appointment.
You will find an example of how to write this letter in our Essential Business Letter Pack, which can be accessed via the Downloads section of this site