James Walker: Travel travails are worth complaining about

Partial refunds start if your train is delayed more than 30 minutes. Picture: Getty
Partial refunds start if your train is delayed more than 30 minutes. Picture: Getty
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Though the hot weather has been wonderful, the sweaty, overcrowded, late or cancelled trains have been intolerable. Fabulously, the Government have just announced that there will be a new, free ombudsman service for trains coming later this year. I’m working with Transport Focus on ways we can give all you frustrated commuters and travellers more rights.

But what can you do if you need to make a complaint about a transport issue now? Here’s a quick guide.

Delayed trains

Of the 5,000 complaints Resolver received about trains last year, the vast majority were about delays. The good news is there’s a scheme called “delay/repay” that covers when you’re entitled to a refund from a train operator. Some operators like Virgin will automatically refund you for delays, while others make it more complicated. The partial refunds start if your train is delayed more than 30 minutes, though London Underground and some operators are refunding after 15 minutes.

Buses and coaches

More than 5,500 people made a complaint about buses and coaches last year. If you feel you’ve been misled by a timetable (there’s no way it gave a realistic arrival time, for example) you can complain. But you can also tackle anything from rude drivers to overcrowded vehicles, not to mention diversions, wheelchair access and ticket hikes. Keep evidence like bus tickets or your contactless payment reference and if you’re able to safely snap a photo to support your case it all helps.

Rearranged timetables

You might not think you can complain about the recent timetable debacles that have had such an impact on people around the UK. But you can and you should. While rail and bus companies aren’t likely to pay you individual compensation for their cock up, it’s vital that we all take the time to make our voices heard. It might seem a faff, but it only takes a few clicks and as many minutes to make a complaint about a business – and if enough people pass on their comments, it can make a difference.

What ticket should I buy?

Last week I went to buy a

train ticket. Two different colour machines offered me no less that ten different options for a five-minute journey. When I got to the other end, my ticket was with the wrong company and I was sent to a remote payment desk to pay an extra 30p. I was not amused. Ticketing on all forms of transport is too complicated. If you’ve got examples – even if you’ve not lost money – use Resolver to pass on your comments. It only takes a few minutes and if enough people do it, we can force them to change their ways.

Season tickets

What if your train, bus or coach service is so rubbish that you deserve a refund on your season ticket? Well astoundingly, this scenario really wasn’t considered by transport companies for many years. But with recent meltdowns on the trains, the matter has come to a head. So yes, you can ask for a proportional refund on your season ticket too. Make sure you explain the impact on your daily commute and why the firm is responsible when you make your complaint.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk