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Friday, November 04, 2011

Thank you for waiting 

"Thank you for waiting" is, I think, my current top phrase of annoyance when I am out shopping.

I encountered it once before in Uni Qlo (I think I blogged about it) when two old queens held up the one assistant by camply praising the tiles behind the till. The assistant, when he finally got to me, said "thank you for waiting" and really wasn't impressed with my response of "I didn't really have an alternative."

I popped into M&S in Oxford Street at lunchtime today to buy some emergency socks - I developed a hole in one and couldn't face the afternoon with a strangled toe. The two assistants were helping some belligerent customers and so another assistant came along and immediately said "thank you for waiting". I bit my tongue on the obvious response and did so again when I was paying for my lunch and the words drifted over to me.

Why does it annoy me?

The switch from "sorry to keep you waiting" to "thank you for waiting" is subtle but implies a rejection of any degree of ownership as to why I'm waiting. It sounds like something a management consultant has dreamed up to justify some hugely overinflated fee.

"Sorry to keep you waiting" says "we haven't enough people on the tills and we're sorry about that" whereas "thank you for waiting" says "we're doing our best but it really is your own fault for choosing this till. You saw those women. Did it look like they were going to be two minutes buying a shirt? No. You're stuck."

"Thank you for waiting" is yet another nail in the coffin of service and a refusal to accept responsibility for poor service.

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