It ceases to amaze how and why people still use the 911 emergency call system as a sounding board for general complaints. Just when you think the nuisance calls couldn’t get any sillier, more unbelievable tales of woe are recorded.

In 2023 E-Comm handled more than 2.1 million 911 calls, which represents an increase of 13 per cent over 2022.

It takes a special type of person to be a call taker for E-Comm. They are highly trained individuals who don’t have time for general questions and complaints. If someone calls to report that a neighbour was rude to them, another call regarding a head-on collision or a heart attack may be delayed because the line is busy with that non-emergency. The fact is call takers have to treat every 911 inquiry as an emergency no matter how absurd it might be.

Every second counts, according to E-Comm employee Alaina Milicevic.

“Every second we spend fielding questions about AirBnB reservations or complaints about Uber Eats orders, is time that could otherwise be dedicated to helping someone in a life-threatening emergency situation,” she says. 

Instead of calling 911 for consumer complaints,  try reaching out to an appropriate customer service agent, or filing a report with the Better Business Bureau. But sadly, common sense is elusive at the best (and worst) of times, which brings us to E-Comm’s top 10 nuisance calls in 2023:

• I need directions home from the Drake concert

• The traffic light was taking too long to turn green

• I lost a nose ring down the shower drain

• The AirBnB host cancelled my reservation

• The Uber Eats order was taking too long

• Burger shop wouldn’t let me in before opening

• I can’t find my cell phone  

• A complaint about a pothole

• My McDonalds order is taking too long

• The barber gave me a bad haircut

Really? How does one classify not knowing how to get home from a Drake concert an emergency? Or a nose ring down the drain? Maybe a few brain cells fell down there too, but it’s highly doubtful that a plumber could retrieve those. A traffic light taking too long? Complain to the appropriate government ministry. A pothole? Call the city to fix it; remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Even if you call 911 by accident, do not hang up because the call taker must verify that it’s not a real emergency. If you hang up, you can expect a quick call back. Another tip from call takers is to not program 911 into your phone.

Lyonel Doherty, editor