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I read the following in a TOEIC book:

From: confirmation@lavendermusic.com
To: felipejuarez@malomail.com
Subject: Welcome to Lavender Music
Date: August 8

Hello, Mr. Juarez,

Welcome to Lavender Music Streaming Service!

We are sending this e-mail to confirm your subscription to Lavender Music. You signed up for the Music Lover package, which costs $3.99 per month and includes ten hours of music playback each month and music videos exclusively available to Lavender Music members. ________.

If at any point should you wish to terminate your service, please navigate to your account settings page on our Web site. Once there, click the “Close Account” button.

Happy listening, The Lavender Music Team

Q. Select the best answer to complete the text.

(A) This package also includes a subscription to our weekly newsletter.
(B) Unfortunately, we are not able to process your payment at this time.
(C) We will charge your credit card this amount on the eighth of every month.
(D) You may enroll in our streaming service by e-mailing a sales specialist.”

Which sentence do you think is best suited for the blank? I think A and C are fine, but don’t know which one is better.

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The question you are really being asked is what information belongs in the email, given that the email is one communication of a longer chain of back-and-forth communication between the business and the customer. Implicit in the choices they give you – this is how the questions differ from one another – is the question, "Given where the customer is in the purchase process, what information is pertinent to him now."

Answer B is clearly wrong because it is in contradiction to the point of the whole email: the purchase succeeded, and the customer is being notified that it has succeeded.

Answer D is also clearly wrong, because the customer already has enrolled in the streaming service: information about how to enroll was needed at an earlier stage in the process, which has already been successfully completed.

Thus, as you have realized, we're left with A and C. Both are grammatically and logically fine. What distinguishes them is that A tells the recipient something that they needed to know (and were probably already informed about) back when initially deciding whether to purchase the service in the first place, while C is notifying the recipient of something new and pertinent, that the vendor couldn't have told the buyer earlier in the process, because the date of autobilling is set by the date the credit card is first successfully processed. Until the credit card went through, the vendor didn't know on what date the autobilling would happen on.

Thus the right answer is C: it is telling the recipient something new and important that they couldn't have been told earlier in the process.

  • "while C...the vendor couldn't have told the buyer earlier in the process" - from the information we have in the email and even including option C, we can't say that the company couldn't have known the payment date earlier, because some companies process payments for all customers on the same day of the month regardless of when they joined, and though the email is dated August 8 Mr Juarez may have joined on that day by coincidence. Or the sign-up process may have allowed Mr Juarez to select the payment date. (What you are saying is quite logical, just not 100% certain.) – nnnnnn May 28 '16 at 22:18
  • @nnnnnn, the issue is that Mr Juarez may have submitted a bum card. Even if he elected on sign-up to be billed on the 8th, until the card has proven good by having a charge go through, the vendor doesn't know whether they're going to be billing him regularly on any day. – Codeswitcher May 30 '16 at 2:40
  • That's true up to a point - some companies do a $1 hold on your credit card as soon as you submit the details, just to confirm that it is a real card. They then cancel the hold at the time of the first "real" transaction. But either way, the TOEIC test is an English test and really shouldn't be giving questions that can't be answered correctly without knowledge of how businesses handle credit card transactions. From that point of view I think A and C are equally valid answers. – nnnnnn May 30 '16 at 2:57
  • @nnnnnn, oh, totally, agreed. – Codeswitcher May 30 '16 at 3:57

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