‘They’re not redeeming your coupon for you?’: B.C.’s 10 dumbest 911 calls of 2018

E-comm has released its annual top-10 list of head-scratching 911 calls and among them are some real first-world problems.

The service, which handles more than 1-million calls from across the province each year, has released its annual top-10 list of nuisance calls.

The reasons some people decided to call 911 can be hard to believe:

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

The list includes measured responses from E-comm operators:

  • “OK, well that’s not illegal, it’s not very nice, but it’s not illegal and we can’t tie up an emergency line for something like that — that’s not an emergency.”
  • “OK, so sorry, you’re calling because you asked for [premium] gas and they put regular gas in your car?”
  • “Ma’am, are you calling 911 because they’re not redeeming your coupon for you?”
  • “Your front car wipers have stopped working?”
  • “9-1-1 is for crimes where there’s life or death emergencies, not to report a jacket you lost.”
  • “Sir, are you calling 911 regarding the time change?”

While it’s hard not to chuckle at such misguided questions, E-comm notes that such unnecessary calls can have serious, real-world consequences.

Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm corporate communications manager, said such calls “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.”

In previous years, calls making the top 10 have included a request for the phone number of a local tire dealer, a complaint that a child won’t put on their seat belt, and a request for help to open a broken gym locker.

E-Comm, which provides service for 26 regional districts from across B.C., handles 92 per cent of the province’s 911 call volume.

— With files from Simon Little

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