The latest head-shaking example comes out of London, Ont., where a teenage boy in the midst of an asthma attack inside a local Tim Hortons coffee shop on Sunday was refused permission to use the store's phone to call 911.
According to the London Free Press, the teen, who a witness said was clearly in distress, was going between the store's two tills looking for help.
“The employee asked ‘what do you want?’ kind of rudely," customer Kali Sproat told the Free Press. "He said 'help. Phone.' But she told him the phones weren’t for customers — there was a pay phone across the street.”
Sproat, who used her cellphone to call 911, said none of the half dozen employees asked if he needed help.
"The whole time, not one of them came out from behind the counter to see if he was OK,” Sproat told the Free Press.
To make matters worse, said Sproat, when paramedics arrived they mistakenly tried to enter via an exit-only door. Employees refused to open it for them.
“Why didn’t they respond?" asked Sproat, who stayed with the boy until paramedics could get to him. "I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t do anything to help."
The teen, who did not need to be hospitalized, told Sproat his asthma medication was not working.
Tim Hortons spokeswoman Michelle Robichaud told the Free Press the store employee who initially talked to the teen didn't realize he was having trouble breathing.
“My understanding is that the young man asked to use the phone and the team member didn’t recognize he was in medical distress,” Robichaud said.
She said the company will review its policies for handling emergencies with staff at the franchise location.
“The safety and well-being of our guests is of utmost concern to us," she said.