The Problem I have with “No Problem”
The table was dirty. There was Coke on the floor, cheerios on the seat, and water and crumbs on the table. Obviously, a toddler had been there and my lunch date and l laughed until the host asked us to have a seat. This was OUR table.
He said he would send someone over to clean up the table, which was nice but I kind of wished he had done that before I sat on three cheerios, crushing them into my suit pants.
Our waiter appeared and asked if we would like to order. I have waited tables before and understand how tough it can be, so I tried to politely point out the obvious.
“Could we have someone wipe off our table?” I asked.
“No problem,” he said. We placed our order.
Five minutes later, our arms shaking as we tried not to touch the table, someone came over and wiped off our table.
A few minutes later, our food arrived. That was the good news. The bad news was we had no silverware. The person delivering the food was not our waiter, but we asked if she could bring us some silverware.
“No problem,” she said.
The silverware did not appear. The manager stopped by our table to ask us how everything was going. We mentioned, nicely, that we needed some silverware.
“No problem,” he said.
Our silverware was finally delivered and we began to eat our lukewarm meal. By the second bite I noticed a seething young man with a white apron standing at our table.
“Hello,” he said, a few nails falling on our table as he spoke.
“Hi?” I responded, wondering if Eminem had just become a dishwasher.
“If you have a problem with your table being dirty or not having silverware, you tell ME. Not your waiter. Okay?” he said, face red.
“Sure,” I said, too confused to ask who he was or why he was about to beat us up. “Everything is fine now, thank you.”
“No problem,” he threw at us, obviously not meaning it.
I still don’t know who he was or why he was angry, but I can tell you this — I’m sick of the “No problem” response, especially when it’s MY problem I’m trying to resolve.
In my opinion, “no problem” insinuates that I was somehow a burden to begin with. What if they had followed Chick-fil-A’s example and said “My pleasure”? I would have felt served instead of tolerated. My experiences at places like Car Max have been exemplary. It can be done!
If you are solving a customer’s problem, please don’t say “No problem.” Customers are not a problem; they are the reason we all have jobs. And they deserve better.