Dialing 911 is for serious emergencies – not to complain that a restaurant wouldn't accept your coupon, or that a gas station attendant filled your car with the wrong type of gas. 

Sadly, these are just a couple of the trivial consumer complaints received by B.C.'s biggest emergency call centre in 2018.

On Thursday, E-Comm released its annual list of the year's worst 911 nuisance calls, including a complaint that a local fast food restaurant was closed even though it's supposed to be open 24 hours a day.

"OK, well that's not illegal," operator Heather Andrews responded in an audio recording of the call. "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."

Another caller thought it was a good idea to dial 911 to report a store wouldn't accept a shoe return without the original shoebox.

Other callers tied up emergency resources for reasons that had nothing to do with customer service, but were baffling all the same. One asked for help turning off their car's headlights, while another wanted to report a lost jacket.

While some of the 911 calls might be funny in hindsight, nuisance calls are a major problem for E-Comm – and they can have potentially dire consequences.

Someone's health could be in jeopardy while operators are busy listening to frivolous complaints, but they can't simply hang up when a caller appears to be wasting their time.

E-Comm, which handled more than 1.45 million 911 calls this year, says operators have to treat every call as a potential emergency because people in threatening situations sometimes mask their reason for using the phone.

“When someone calls 911 for general information, we still have to confirm the person is safe before completing the call," said Kayla Ryan, the operator who received this year's call about a denied shoe refund.

"Calling the police to complain about a store’s return policy isn’t a reason to call 911."

While most people use 911 responsibly, E-Comm says there are always some who need reminding. With that in mind, here is the call centre's list of 2018's worst reasons to dial 911:

  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