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I was wondering if there was a more formal and polite way of saying:

Sorry to bug you again about this, but we still have not received a response about X ....

(if we still have not received any assistance with X)

or

Sorry to bug you again about this, but we are still having problems with X and ....

(if we have already received some assistance with X)

I would like to use examples of the two sentences above in an email directed to an organization, but I would like to avoid using "you" or "bug", if possible.

For more context, this is part of an email where we are requesting this organization to fix a service that they provide to us.

Addendum: To clarify, I'm interested in both cases when we directly pay for the service requested and when we don't.

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1  
A good question: I'm in a similar quandry with a supplier, but after 'sorry to bother you' email or two, I started to ratchet-up the bluntness. :) –  CJM Aug 22 '11 at 20:05
    
I originally thought this question might help people who really don't know any standard English alternatives for OP's ubiquitous slang use of "bug". I now see it as a question of etiquette, common sense, and good manners. So I'm voting to close because it's not really about language at all. –  FumbleFingers Aug 23 '11 at 0:26

13 Answers 13

up vote 49 down vote accepted

I assume by "Sorry to bug you again about this" that you were already given help with "X", so instead of an apology, perhaps a thank you would work better:

Thank you for your help with X, but we are still having problems with it and...

This is most likely how I would write it, an apology seems to be an admission that you feel "bad" for asking and can sound "whiny", while a thank you gives the idea that you feel "good" about their previous help and appreciate it.


If you are paying for this service or for support (which you may not be), I wouldn't worry about apologizing for requesting it, especially if your previous request was not attended to.

I would like to use examples of the two sentences above in an email directed to an organization, but I would like to avoid using "you" or "bug", if possible.

I don't think it's quite necessary to avoid these two words, but there are a number of options if this is your goal. For example:

  • Sorry to be a bother...
  • Sorry to burden your staff with this... (still uses a form of "you")
  • I/We apologize for the repeated request...

Personally, in any case I would drop the apology or thank you, in fact all extraneous parts of the email altogether. Busy people like to get things done quickly, and if their staff has a lot of work they'll appreciate a to-the-point email. However, it depends, and I recognize that this viewpoint avoids the literal question of what to replace those two words with.

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Thanks @Wesley. This is indeed a good answer, but I have clarified my question to explicitly include those cases when I have not received any response from the other end yet. In those cases, there hasn't been any help yet. –  user815423426 Aug 22 '11 at 17:00
    
+1 for the positive stance towards the other person :) –  emragins Aug 23 '11 at 1:17
    
This is by far the best answer - it's completely lacking in rudeness, and isn't overly flowery or long-winded. Polite, clear, to the point! –  thesunneversets Aug 23 '11 at 10:27
    
I like your sandwich approach (i.e. Nice-comment + not-so-nice-comment.) It is professional, cordial, yet communicates the intended message well. –  Andrew Neely Aug 23 '11 at 11:39

The phrase "we do not mean to be burdensome" is very close to the "sorry to bug you" phrase, yet has more of a formal feel. It also indicates that your intention is not to be a bother.

Examples:

We do not mean to be burdensome, but we are still having issues with x.

and

We do not mean to be burdensome, but we still have not received a response about X ....

You may substitute "annoying", "bothersome", "aggravating", or "irritating" for "burdensome" for similar results.

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I think I will accept this answer since it seems to work well for cases when we have or have not received any response at all yet, and because it doesn't require us to say sorry in first place. –  user815423426 Aug 22 '11 at 18:56

Rather than bug I would say bother, but otherwise keep your phrasing: "Sorry to bother you about this...".

Since you don't want to say you (Why not? It's appropriate!), we can rephrase it passively as: Sorry to be bothersome... or Sorry to be troublesome...

But I have to say, the active voice is better writing.

My recommendation: go with 'Sorry to bother you...' or even better 'We're sorry to bother you...'

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1  
I agree. The only part that seems informal here to me is the word "bug", which I would instantly replace with "bother". "Pester" could work but it makes you seem even more like a pain in the ass. –  Wesley Murch Aug 22 '11 at 18:04
1  
"Sorry to be a bother, but" would also work to avoid "you". –  starsplusplus Jan 28 at 11:14

I'm sorry to have to bring this up again, but […].

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And to go passive-aggressive: "I'm sorry that I have to bring this up again, but […]" –  Paul Wagland Aug 24 '11 at 18:09

I don't think any of these situations call for an apology, and inserting a "fake apology" (anything fitting the pattern of "I'm sorry...but") serves no purpose and is at best patronizing.

If you're paying for a service:

We are still awaiting a response regarding issue X. Please reply as soon as you receive this message.

If you're not paying:

We are still awaiting a response regarding issue X. If you are unable to provide an answer at this time, please inform us as to when we can expect a response so that we can plan accordingly. Thank you for your support.

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I like the directness, but I might recommend "We have not yet received" rather than "We are still awaiting", so as to allow the possibility (however slim) of a technical problem. –  Malvolio Aug 22 '11 at 19:12

"We unfortunately seem to still have problems with X, despite the assistance your organization has provided so far."

All in all, I don't think using "you" or "your" is too big of an issue, as long as it's not being used in an accusatory sentence--It's certainly not an issue when you're apologizing for a disturbance.

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Please accept my apologies for further repetition on this issue, but...

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1  
I don't have the rep to downvote, but I would consider any use of "sorry" (or equivalent) followed by "but" (or equivalent) bad usage. It's the classic "fake apology" pattern and it's annoyingly insincere. –  R.. Aug 22 '11 at 18:56
7  
Why would you downvote though? I don't like Jeffrey's style either, but it is a perfectly reasonable suggestion. Down-voting should be reserved for incorrect answers or to answers that don't address the question - not simply ones we don't like. –  CJM Aug 22 '11 at 20:01

OP's bug is informal/slangy, and shouldn't be used unless you know the other party very well, but in most other contexts it should be fine to say "Sorry to trouble (or bother) you again".

If there really is a need to be more formal, there are potentially two different situations. If the reason for the follow-up request is arguably OP's fault, in that he should have gotten all necessary information first time around, something along the lines of @Jeffrey Blake's Please accept my apologies... is reasonable.

If the fault clearly lies with the other party for failing to respond [adequately], I suggest not including an apology at all, since this may easily be taken as sarcastic. If there has in fact been at least a partial response, @Wesley Murch's Thank you... but... is suitable. If not, something along the lines of Please note that we have not yet received your response...

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Pardon my frequent interruptions, however we are still continuing to address issues with blah, blah, blah...

...thank you for your continued prompt attention to this matter.

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I think this answer has the right balance between extremes of sounding too subservient and sounding too blunt. –  VividD Jan 15 at 15:32

I would not say that I am sorry to "bug them" if they have not resolved the problem yet. They have not responded, or have done so in an incomplete/inadequate way. They owe you the apology, if any is to be made.

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I question the goals of saying "sorry to bug you," are you paying for this service? If so, I would recommend something more direct.

I am frustrated, and find I need to bring this up with you again.

If you find yourself congenitally unable to stop apologizing:

Regrettably, the problem we attempted to address on June 18, June 23 and August 1 continues. I appreciate your prompt attention, and hope that it does not unduly inconvenience you to provide me with a status report and an estimate for when you will have the issue resolved.

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I know this is different than what the OP was asking, but I prefer to be as polite, sweet, and cordial as possible when asking for help. For example:

If you've not received help:

I do appreciate that you are busy and I hate to trouble you again, but we are having trouble with X.

Or

If you have received help:

I appreciate your previous assistance with X. We are still having difficulty with X.

I'd finish with a nice

Thank you for your time with this issue.

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Based on the context, I would phrase things completely differently, and use other words to acknowledge the progress that has happened or is needed. For example,

Since I have not heard back from you in regards to ..., I wanted to follow up on ...

I appreciate the help I've received to date; however I am still having one issue that has not been resolved...

"Following up" is generally considered a polite way to approach lack of response or resolution, especially in a business context

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protected by RegDwigнt May 2 '13 at 13:33

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