You are here

Guest editorial: The power of 'Thank you'

Published May 31, 2021

Language evolves, but this is no excuse for laziness in using it. When you purchased something at a store — doesn't matter what kind of a store it is — you probably thanked the cashier, clerk, or salesperson, because, I am assuming the people reading this are polite. Did the person on the other side of the counter respond to you, "no problem"? This is a phrase that has been subsumed into our everyday lexicon. I am no expert on language, but this incorrect usage of the phrase really bothers me.

If I just spent $500 or $5,000 to buy a bike and the salesperson, at the conclusion of the sale, told me, "no problem," after I thanked them, regardless of how nicely she said that, I would be disappointed. Of course it's no problem: it's their job to sell me that bike, or whatever I chose to purchase. My purchase of that bike is indicative of the fact that I wanted to spend my money at that shop, for whatever reasons: appreciation of the brand, reputation of shop, selection, recommendation by a friend/colleague, or in today's COVID-19 climate, because this was the only shop where I could find a/that bike. I am not creating a "problem" by purchasing from that shop. The salesperson, clerk, cashier, should be saying thank you, and hopefully meaning it. If I thank them first, I guess that they could say, "you're welcome," but a better response, in my opinion, would be, "no, we thank YOU" and mean it, or at the very least, go through the motions of civility.

It's a generational thing, I believe, but the term "no problem" has co-opted the polite response of "thank you." It's not that people, especially those younger than boomers, are intentionally trying to be impolite. In their world "no problem" is what you say at the end of a transaction, after someone else, usually the customer/recipient of the goods or service, thanks them. Really, they are just using the term incorrectly. It's alright if you ask a friend to pick you up a tube of chamois crème when they are going to the shop to pick up their bike, and they tell you, that that would be "no problem," since they will be at the shop, anyway. It's just simply not correct to use this phrase instead of thank you, or you're welcome.

Sure, buying a bike or an expensive wheelset, or chamois crème is not like purchasing a house, but don't you think that you should be thanked for choosing that product(s), in that shop, and spending your hard-earned money on this transaction? Your patronage deserves to be appreciated, and one of the best ways for the shop to do that, is just simply to say, "thank you."

I want to thank you for reading this guest editorial, and I hope that it was "no problem."

Ted Schweitzer is an experienced sales rep in the Upper Midwest /Great Lakes region and is open to opportunities. His previous guest editorial for BRAIN was about domestic manufacturing. He can be reached at

Join the Conversation