'What time is it?' and other absurd calls to Vancouver's 311 line
As Vancouver’s 311 Contact Centre celebrates its 10th anniversary, staff members are revealing some of their most memorable calls from the public.
The service is not 911, but that didn’t stop some people calling 311 in a panic. In one case, a Vancouver man called after he noticed smoke in his office.
“He indicated that on the floor there was a fire,” said 311 call representative Veronika Krajsek. “So I did do a warm transfer to the fire department.”
Staff can help the public with a whole range of topics like property taxes and building inspection information.
Workers go through extensive training and must have the right disposition to answer the phones. Often, they hear from irate citizens who just got bad news like a parking ticket.
“Just kind of sit back and listen to what the citizen says, and try not to take it personally,” advised Krajsek.
Other unusual calls include:
- Not being warned about a sudden water main break and the shut-off that followed
- Requests for the time
- Complaints about tap water being too cold in the winter
- Enquiries about whether the ducks at Stanley Park are edible
In its 10 years, 7.75 million calls have poured in to the call centre. Staff welcome all city related calls unless you smell smoke.