Making an initial complaint

Making an initial complaint

Complaints paperwork

Before making your complaint to the operator, we suggest you make a note of everything that you want to complain about, including:

  • Date and time;
  • Location: for example, on a platform, at a bus stop, where exactly on the bus/train/street;
  • Numbers and routes: For example, for buses, record the route number, the destination of the bus and if possible its registration number; for trains, record the starting point of your journey and the destination of the train and the name of the train company; and for taxis or minicabs the plate number (the five-digit number on the rear of the vehicle and inside the passenger compartment); 
  • Any names or details of people involved. If you are complaining about a driver, it helps if you can give a clear description of him/her.
  • Any other relevant details that may help

Other advice

Put in your complaint quickly. Any delay may make it more difficult to deal with your complaint. For instance, CCTV footage from buses is often kept for 36 hours or so before being re-used. If you are requesting a ticket refund, most operators will give refunds within 28 days of purchase only.

Put it in writing, rather than over the phone. Complaints may be sent in by e-mail, via the complaints form on the transport provider’s website or by letter. Complaining via the operator’s complaints form on their website may get a faster response.

Make sure you cover all the key points. Say exactly what the problem is and what you would like the operator to do about it. It is best to keep your complaint short and to the point.  

Send in copies of any supporting documents such as tickets. Video or photographic evidence can be useful if available.  If the company allows it, always send documents attached to emails.  If a company has a web form but no facility to attach supporting documents, make the complaint and clearly state that supporting documents are available on request. 

If you have to send a complaint by post, only send copies of supporting documents unless an original is required, in which case ensure that you keep a copy. Any complaint sent using the postal service should be sent using recorded delivery.  Type any letter if possible or write very clearly using black ink.

Keep a copy and record of your letter or e-mail and all correspondence, and make sure it is dated, so it can be recovered if necessary.      

You can find out where to send your complaint here. TfL are particularly keen to encourage members of the public to report instances of anti-social behaviour on buses so if you have a complaint about this you can find out more in a dedicated section on TfL's website.

What happens next?

The operator will probably send or email you an acknowledgement with a reference number. Keep a note of your complaint reference number.

The time it takes for the transport provider to respond to your complaint varies depending on the provider and the nature of the complaint, but it can take some weeks. Operators often have a code of practice which sets out a time by which they will aim to respond to your complaint.