Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: IELTS Cue Card

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Updated on Jul 05, 2024, 07:48

An IELTS Speaking cue card is a prompt given during the IELTS Speaking test that requires you to speak about a specific topic for 1-2 minutes. The Speaking module of IELTS assesses your ability to communicate effectively in English through a face-to-face interview with an examiner. The module consists of an introduction and interview, a long turn where you speak on a cue card topic, and a two-way discussion.


One common cue card topic is describing a problem you had while shopping online or in a store. This topic allows you to discuss your experiences, highlighting any issues you encountered and how you dealt with them. This page will explore sample answers for this topic to help you prepare effectively and confidently.

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1. Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: How To Answer?

You'll have one minute to prepare your response, and then you'll need to speak for up to two minutes. Mastering this part of the test can significantly improve your overall score by demonstrating your ability to organise your thoughts and communicate clearly.

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2. Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: Sample Answers

Sample answers are crucial for IELTS preparation, particularly for topics like 'Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store’ They provide practical examples of structuring responses within time limits, articulating thoughts clearly, and concluding effectively. 

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3. Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: Follow-up Questions

This part of the interview lasts for 4-5 minutes and allows you to expand on your ideas, share more opinions, and demonstrate your ability to engage in a deeper conversation. For the topic ‘Describe a problem you had while shopping online or in a store,’ here are some personalised follow-up questions and answers.


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Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: How To Answer?

Knowing how to effectively answer cue card topics is crucial for success in the IELTS Speaking test. When the cue card section starts, the examiner will give you a card with a specific topic and some prompts. 


Cue Card/Topic: Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store

You should say:

  • When it happened
  • What you bought
  • What problem you had
  • And describe the party.



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Here’s how we can effectively deal with the above sections:


Introduction (Covers: When it happened):


  • Start with a brief statement about the topic.
  • Mention where and when the problem occurred.
  • Give a hint of what the problem was without going into detail.


Describing Your Experience/Opinion (Covers: What you bought?):


  • Explain what you were shopping for and why.
  • Describe the problem in detail, focusing on key aspects.
  • Mention any immediate reactions or feelings you had.


Key Highlights (Covers: What problem you had?):


  • Discuss any actions you took to resolve the issue.
  • Highlight any interactions with customer service or store staff.
  • Explain the outcome and whether the problem was resolved.


Conclusion (Covers: Explain how you felt about the experience): 


  • Summarise your overall experience and any lessons learned.
  • Reflect on how this experience has influenced your shopping habits.
  • Mention any advice you would give to others based on your experience.


By following this structure, you can deliver a clear and comprehensive response within the two-minute time limit, showcasing your ability to handle unexpected situations and communicate effectively.



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Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: Sample Answers

Sample answers are essential for your IELTS preparation as they give you a clear idea of how to structure your response and what kind of content to include. By studying sample answers, you can learn how to present your thoughts coherently and effectively within the two-minute time limit.


Sample Answer 1
Sample Answer 2
Sample Answer 3

Introduction (Covers: When it happened):


  • I once had a problem while shopping online for a new laptop.
  • This happened last year when I was searching for a good deal on a reliable website.
  • I found a laptop that seemed perfect, with all the features I needed, and placed the order.


Describing Your Experience/Opinion (Covers: What you bought?):


  • After placing the order, I received a confirmation email stating that the laptop would be delivered within five days.
  • As the delivery date approached, I noticed that the tracking information hadn't been updated.
  • I contacted customer service, and they assured me that everything was on schedule.


Key Highlights (Covers: What problem you had?):


  • Despite their reassurances, the laptop didn't arrive on the promised date.
  • I called customer service again and was informed that there had been a delay due to a stock issue.
  • Frustrated, I asked for a refund, but the process was complicated and took longer than expected.


Conclusion (Covers: Explain how you felt about the experience):


  • Eventually, after multiple follow-ups, I received my refund, but it left me quite dissatisfied with the service.
  • This experience taught me to be more cautious when shopping online.
  • It highlighted the importance of good customer service and transparent communication.



Describe A Problem You Had While Shopping Online Or In A Store: Follow-up Questions

The follow-up questions, also known as Part 3: Two-way discussion, occur after you have spoken about your cue card topic. In this round, the examiner will ask you further questions related to the topic you discussed. 

Follow-Up Question 1

Question 1. What kind of customer service do you think is good?


Answer 1:
I think good customer service should be responsive and helpful. When I had a problem with my online order, I expected quick responses and clear solutions. Effective customer service should also be polite and empathetic, understanding the customer's frustration and working diligently to resolve the issue.



Answer 2:
Good customer service, in my opinion, involves clear communication and swift problem-solving. When I faced an issue with my online purchase, I appreciated when the customer service representative was knowledgeable and could offer practical solutions immediately. It also helps when the service is available through various channels, like phone, email, and chat.

Follow-Up Question 2

Question 2:  What is the difference between shopping online and in-store?


Answer 1:
Shopping online offers convenience and a wider range of products, but it can come with delays and uncertainties about product quality. In contrast, shopping in-store allows you to see and feel the product before buying, which reduces the risk of disappointment. However, it can be time-consuming and less convenient.



Answer 2:
When shopping online, you can easily compare prices and read reviews, which helps in making informed decisions. However, the downside is the waiting time for delivery and potential issues with returns. Shopping in-store, on the other hand, provides immediate gratification and the ability to ask staff for advice, but you might not find the same variety of products.


Follow-Up Question 3

Question 3: What problem do customers often have while shopping?


Answer 1:
One common problem customers face is misleading product descriptions. I have experienced receiving items that did not match their online descriptions, leading to disappointment and the hassle of returns. Clear and accurate product information is crucial to avoid such issues.



Answer 2:
Another frequent issue is poor customer service. When I had a problem with a delayed order, the lack of timely and helpful responses made the situation worse. Effective customer service is essential to address and resolve problems efficiently, ensuring a positive shopping experience.

Follow-Up Question 4

Question 4: What do you think customers should do when there are problems with the product bought online?


Answer 1:
Customers should first contact the retailer’s customer service to report the issue and seek a resolution, whether it’s a refund, replacement, or repair. It’s important to provide all necessary details, including order number and photos if applicable, to expedite the process.



Answer 2:
When facing problems with online purchases, customers should read the return policy carefully and follow the prescribed steps for returns or complaints. Keeping records of all communications and transactions can help in resolving disputes. If the retailer is unresponsive, considering consumer protection agencies might be necessary.

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Q. What can I do if I don’t understand the cue card topic?

Ans. If you find the cue card topic unclear, don't panic. You can ask the examiner to clarify or repeat the question. Take a moment to think about keywords and main ideas related to the topic. Begin by briefly stating what you understand about the topic, and then elaborate on related experiences or opinions.

Q. Can I use informal language during my cue card task?

Ans. It's advisable to use semi-formal language during your cue card task. While you should speak naturally, avoid very casual language or slang. This demonstrates your ability to communicate effectively in a professional setting, which is important for the IELTS Speaking test evaluation.

Q. What are some of the common cue card topics?

Ans.  Common cue card topics include describing a memorable event, discussing a favourite book or movie, talking about a historical place, and sharing experiences related to travel, hobbies, or challenges. These topics are designed to prompt you to speak for up to two minutes on a specific subject, showcasing your fluency, coherence, and vocabulary range.