Making an initial complaint

Making an initial complaint

Complaints paperworkBefore you contact the operator, we suggest that you make a note of everything you want to complain about as accurately and concisely as you can. You should make sure to include:

  • Date and time.
  • Location – for example at a bus stop, on a platform, arrival and departure station.
  • 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 the staff or 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.

Put in your complaint quickly

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 or delay repay compensation, most operators will only process claims made within 28 days of purchase.

Put it in writing, rather than over the phone

It is important that we review all the correspondence between yourself and the operator - so it is always best to make your complaint in writing.

Often complaints can be made via a complaints form which can be found on the transport provider’s website. Alternatively you may also send a letter, but it is best to file a complaint on their website as you should be able to get a faster response.

Keep a copy and record of your letter or e-mail and all correspondence

And keep a record of any reference numbers that the operator may have given you.

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 webform 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, just send copies of supporting documents unless an original is required, in which case ensure that you keep a copy. Any complaint sent by post should either be by recorded delivery or have proof of postage. Type any letter if possible or write very clearly using black ink.

Where to send your complaint?

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?

In most cases you will receive an acknowledgement email with a reference number from the operator. It is important that you 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. However, operators often have a code of practice which sets out a time by which they will aim to respond to your complaint; usually 20 working days.