British Columbia's largest emergency call reception centre, E-Comm, has released its annual list of calls it says should never have been made to the 911 service.
E-Comm says in a news release that the calls range from someone reporting a lost jacket to a retailer refusing to redeem a coupon.
But the 911 centre, which handled 1.45-million calls between January and November, says the most inappropriate use of the service occurred when someone reported a fast food restaurant was not open 24 hours a day as advertised.
Call taker Heather Andrews handled that report and says when someone calls 911 just to complain about customer service at a business, time is taken away from helping people with real life safety issues.
E-Comm reminds the public that 911 is for police, fire or medical emergencies when immediate response is needed.
E-Comm handles 92 per cent of B.C.'s 911 call volume, covering regional districts and communities from Vancouver Island to Alberta and from the U.S. border to an area north of Prince George.
Another questionable reason to call 911 in 2018 is also linked to the retail industry, and Andrews answered when an irate consumer phoned about a business refusing to accept the return of a pair of shoes without the original box.
"When someone calls 911 for general information, we still have to confirm the person is safe before completing the call. Calling the police to complain about a store's return policy isn't a reason to call 911," she says about the report which ranks second on the top-10 list.
The E-Comm release says other ill-considered reasons to place an emergency call in 2018 include a complaint that a gas station attendant put the wrong type of gas in a vehicle; concern that a rental company provided the wrong-sized vehicle for a customer's reservation; a request for assistance in turning off a vehicle's lights; a report that windshield wipers had stopped working; and a query for details about the location of a towed car.
Capturing 10th place on the list is the familiar question about whether clocks move forward or backward during the spring time change.
"Calls such as those on this year's headscratcher list waste valuable emergency resources that would otherwise be available to someone whose health, safety or property was in jeopardy or a crime was in progress." says Jasmine Bradley, E-Comm corporate communications manager.
In addition to 911 call-taking services for much of British Columbia, E-Comm also provides call-taking and dispatch services to 36 police agencies and fire departments in southwest B.C., and operates the Wide-Area Radio Network, a multi-jurisdictional radio system used by police, fire and ambulance personnel within Metro Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley.
E-Comm says the high-tech communication link has played critical a role in the successful conclusion of several police pursuits, cross municipal-border crime investigations, and a police shooting.