Update: Shanghai has integrated all government service hotlines to the number 12345, which offers English service.
By now, many if not most expats living in Shanghai are familiar with the "magic number"—the 24-hour Shanghai Call Center at 962288. When the bacon craving hits on the way back from work and you don't know where the nearest grocery store is—magic number. When you're not sure where to find a good Sichuan restaurant to take your mom to while she's in town—magic number. It's quiz night and you can't remember Da Shan's English name—magic number.
The city offers several other public service hotlines as well, but they go largely unused by foreigners. According to a report by Shanghai Daily, foreigners in Shanghai made far fewer complaints to the primary consumer complaint hotline than Chinese did. Even taking into account the population difference, the 18 foreign complaints to the more than 111,000 Chinese complaints received in 2011 still leaves foreigners very underrepresented. Part of the problem may be lack of service in English and other foreign languages—Shanghai Daily also reported that only half of the city's public service hotlines they surveyed offer service in English.
Another part of it is a lack of awareness. Helpfully, only two of the city's public service numbers were actually given between the two articles. With that in mind, we've brought you the numbers you need to know and numbers that might just come in handy....
Just in case
Police (text message): 12110
Fire service: 119
Shanghai poison control center: 6295 1860
Other helpful numbers to know
China Consumers' Association complaint hotline: 12315
Call to resolve issues with product or service quality. No English menu options but English-speaking operators are available. Some patience required.
Consumer quality complaint hotline: 12365
English menu options and English-speaking operators available, though you may wait a while. Like the previous quality hotline, this one deals with product quality. The operator (who spoke English well) wasn't able to tell me how their service differed from 12315.
Automated weather report hotline: 12121
The weather report is given in Chinese first, followed by the report in English. It suggests calling 969222 for a more detailed weather report, but this hotline is only in Chinese. When I asked for an English speaker I was redirected to a different call center and the operator wasn't able to help.
Power supply: 95598
English menu options are available as well as English-speaking operators.
Gas supply hotline: 962777
The hotline has an English option on the menu which promptly goes to Chinese, but English operators are only available between 8:30am-5pm.
Flight information: 96990
Offers information from Hongqiao and Pudong airports in English and Chinese.
Public health hotline: 12320
Offers a variety of health services including psychological services. The hotline is available in English and Chinese.
Tourism inquiries and complaints: 962020
No English available. Phone a friend, a Chinese-speaking friend.
Telephone number enquiries: 114
Price complaints: 12358
Finance and tax consultation: 12366
Home appliance service: 962512
Community service: 962200
Cable TV center: 962877
Jinjiang Taxi: 96961
Dazhong Taxi: 96822 (delivery of goods: 96811)
Qiangsheng Taxi: 6258 0000
Tourism quality complaint: 6439 3615
Food safety hotline: 12331
Those who call in with tips about food scandals can potentially receive up to RMB 200,000 for their troubles according to Shanghai Daily.