(E-Comm call taker Heather Andrews / image by E-Comm)

When a crisis strikes, it’s comforting to know that you can call 9-1-1 and have a trained call taker direct emergency services to come to your aid. Some British Columbians, however, may need a refresher on what an “emergency” is.

According to E-Comm, BC’s largest 9-1-1 centre, plenty of mundane complaints were dialed in to their call centres, clogging up potential lifelines.

Call taker Heather Andrews said that the number one call this year was someone complaining about customer service at a business, according to E-Comm’s top 10 list of 9-1-1 headscratchers this year.

“This type of call ties up our ability to help people with real emergencies,” said Andrews. “Dealing with a complaint about the opening hours of a restaurant is a call that doesn’t belong on 9-1-1.”

Meanwhile, Call taker Kayla Ryan said she had to deal with calls about a retailer not accepting a return of shoes without their original box.

“Most people use 9-1-1 responsibly,” said Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm Corporate Communications manager. “But calls such as those on this year’s headscratcher list waste valuable emergency resources that would otherwise be available to someone who’s health, safety or property was in jeopardy or a crime was in progress.”

E-Comm’s top 10 reasons not to call 9-1-1 in 2018

  1. To complain a local fast food restaurant wasn’t open 24-hours-a-day, as advertised
  2. To complain a store won’t take shoes back without the original box
  3. To complain that a gas station attendant put the wrong type of gas in their car
  4. To report a rental company provided the wrong-sized vehicle for a customer’s reservation
  5. To report a restaurant wouldn’t redeem a customer’s coupon
  6. To ask for help turning off their car lights
  7. To report their vehicle’s windshield wipers had stopped working
  8. To find out where their car had been towed
  9. To report a lost jacket
  10. To ask if the clocks move forward or backward during the spring time change

E-Comm receives approximately 1.45 million calls every year to 9-1-1, accounting for approximately 92% of all of BC’s 911 calls. E-Comm is reminding callers that any time a 9-1-1 line is taken up for the reason that does not require immediate action from emergency services, lives could be at risk.