Thank You For Your Patience…Where’s The Justice?

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where's the justice, Jacqueline gum, patienceThe first time someone said “Thank you for your patience” I had been waiting on the telephone for tech support and listening to some disturbing (at least to me) heavy metal rock music for over an hour. The words flummoxed me. I couldn’t deliver the tirade I’d been practicing while I was on hold, in the face of gratitude. “Thank you,” I’d been taught, is to be answered with “You’re welcome.” Yet I couldn’t say it when I hadn’t given something freely…namely, my patience.

The next time, I’d been waiting for better than a half-hour at a drugstore for some prescriptions that I was told, via their automated telephone system, were ready for pick-up. Yet when I arrived, they couldn’t find my name in the system.

I was the polar opposite of patient as I paced back and forth in front of them. I made a point of dramatically lifting my wrist and exposing my watch every few minutes… or it may have been seconds, to be honest. I was in a hurry as I had a scheduled conference call, yet I had to start taking the meds that day. Finally at check-out, after this half hour of waiting (and no line) the clerk said, “Thank you for your patience.” I was ready to leap over the counter and pummel the smile off her face.

I’ve decided that this phrase has too often become condescending and offensive. First, the offenders are making an assumption that I have been patient. Chances are pretty good that I haven’t and they damn well know it. And it seems that they feel compelled to deliver that disgusting line with a smug smile.

I’d respond completely differently were someone to say, “I’m sorry to have made you wait.” At least that’s an admission of fault on their part. An apology almost begs a response from me like, “Okay, no problem,” at best, or on a bad day I might mutter, “Okay, let’s get on with it.”

I really believe that there is a conspiracy amongst these perpetrators to make me feel contrite about waiting for THEM! If I issue no retort, it makes me feel as if they’ve won.

where's the justice, jacqueline gum, patienceMost often I am the customer paying for a good or service, yet I’ve lost my leverage. I have no choice but to wait and that turns the power over to the provider. Why are they thanking me for something I didn’t give? Where’s The Justice? The whole idea is ludicrous.

So I’ve decided that the next time someone dares utter, “thanks for your patience,” after I’ve been waiting impatiently for an undue amount of time, I’m going to respond with a smile and the following:

Don’t thank me for something I didn’t give you. You’re aware that I haven’t been patient and a more appropriate nicety might be your apology for making me wait. This will allow me to respond with a more gracious, “apology accepted.” You seem to have gotten our relationship confused somehow. Need I remind that YOU are the overhead and I am the profit? And by all means, you have a very…nice…day.

It sure beats what I’d like to say, which is “Kiss my –ss!!!”

How do you respond to “thanks for your patience”? And what would you REALLY like to say?[subscribe2]

I’d love for you to share this post so we can see what other folks have to say. Thanks!

48 thoughts on “Thank You For Your Patience…Where’s The Justice?

  1. I guess you would rather the service representative not acknowledge your wait at all or give some half hearted appology? Usually the person you are waiting for has no control over how long you had to wait. If you have a problem with the wait time then you need to contact their corporate directly. Most of the time unless its a mistake that person or their associates made that supervisor doesn’t even have control over your wait. Also if you have an issue with the language that is being used bring that up to corp also because they are coached or scripted to use such phrases. You acting entitled and starting a conversation with some smart ass comment to someone who is working hard on the front lines to help you is not the way to get your issue resolved efficiently. Why not just move on and thank them for working hard for you because I bet they have not heard a thank you from a customer all day.

    • Interesting point of view. I disagree in terms of your characterization of acting entitled…entitlement. When you pay for something…service or goods, entitled is what you indeed are! And should be. And if they haven’t heard a thsnk you all day, it’s probably because they didn’t earn one.

  2. This is when my directness (Introvert style) serves me most of the time. “Really? You think I am being patient? Just so you know, this is not my patience look. Now can we do this?” This is how my response sounds maybe not always the exact way every time. I want people to understand that they are reading my body language incorrectly. Smile customer service training is prevalent. Business sense is not.

    Always good stuff Jacqueline.

    • Love the response! Exactly perfect…thanks. I’m assuming you don’t mind if I copy? It is the highest form of flattery!

  3. OKay wow, cause this is stuff we all deal with, and yeh the lady at the pharmacy could have shown better customer service. But the truth is, customer service is hard to deal with, and America has one of the best customer service– even the ones that hate doing customer service.
    Can you imagine, if you were in Europe pacing back and forth for your meds, they would have told YOU to shove it. Turning a profit isn’t on the same level as Americans. They won’t please until their back breaks.
    But if someone is being arrogant, I think being arrogant right back at them sometimes just makes you as low as they are….better to keep your head high.

    • Interesting! I have been in pharmacies in both Britain and Italy and never experienced that kind of arrogance. But I sure appreciate your opinion. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment :)

  4. I hate the phrase Thank you for your patience. I have responded at what point did you notice that I was patient? That usually throws them off guard with their annoying comment. Then I will get I am sorry I made you wait. I then say, well now you are honest. I loved your post as it made me laugh and also made me feel that I am not nuts with my reaction to the comment Thank you for your patience

    • Thanks Arleen! Glad to know this rankles other people as much as it does me. Excellent response, by the way. Short and to the point. I’m going to stael that one :)

  5. I’m a low key person so I usually always respond in a respectful manner. There have been a couple times where I have waited for longer than an hour for some help. I might have mumbled a few words that I can’t type here lol.

  6. There are some instances where impatience is warranted. When you are told something is complete and ready, it should be. Companies are so automated now that they loose the customer service aspect. So many times the “sorry for the wait” is just words without feelings behind it. :-)

  7. I’m having an issue with this phrase right now as it’s been almost a month and my current doctor has yet to appropriately send off a prescription so it can be filled via my online pharmacy. At this point, I’ve told them it’s not rocket science. I don’t know what the hold-up is, but to me “thank you for your patience” just usually means someone isn’t going their job.

  8. I agree, Jacquie.

    It’s such a condescending and placating phrase. An apology for making us wait would be much preferred.

  9. We have a vendor that’s extremely late on parts. Parts aren’t passing inspection at all. They can’t or won’t give us a written recovery plan. They are our sole casting house for these parts and know our hands are tied. They use “thank you for your patience” or something similar in their responses. So when I read their emails I cringe and get that nervous tick like thing going on out of sheer annoyance.

  10. Agree with you. It’s such an American way of doing things. The worst such phrase I ever heard in your country was “Thank you for using your credit card”.

    While I spent most of my life living abroad Swedes suddenly lost manners. There is no way someone in a pharmacy in Sweden would even thank someone for their patience, let alone apologize for making people wait. If that’s the option, maybe “thank you for your patience” is better than nothing?:-)

  11. Truly, weasel phrases like this are so prevalent, we let them roll off our back…which maybe we shouldn’t? It’s phrased that way in the name of $$$$.

      • I now put them on hold. But I love your response and will certainly use it. The problem is not with the person ansering the phone it’s with the company that does not hire enough tech support. So that’s why I now use speaker phone and actually get some work done while on hold.

  12. God help those in the vicinity if/when you and I ever get together in the same place at the same time. I chuckle to think about it. Yes, “thank you for your patience” is first cousin to “your call is very important to us.”

    All total bullshit.

  13. If the wait hasn’t been over the top long, I usually respond with “you’re welcome” which avoids even more wasted time. When it’s an in person issue and you’ve been pacing and looking at your watch, charitably, what they really mean is “Thank you for not making a scene.” When it’s a phone issue, if you’re really p.o.’d, you probably need to find a higher up to complain to because the customer service rep who kept you waiting has no control over the understaffing — or you can vent by writing a blog post ;-) Been there, done that. http://www.boomeresque.com/customer-friendly-really/

  14. Oh, boy, have I been waiting for someone to ask this question. The last time I heard the obnoxious “Thank you for your patience” phrase my situation was this:
    Our Comcast modem had gone out. We had no Internet, no land line, and I had been on hold on my prepaid cell phone for almost an hour. With each click of the clock hand tick-tocking, I saw $$ signs disappearing into thin air. When the tech finally came on the line, I knew I couldn’t have more than mere minutes of prepaid time left. When I relayed my dire situation to her, asking if I could have a direct number to call her back, she assured me that she had my number and would call me, should we be disconnected.
    And then the line went dead…
    How was she going to call me back with our land line down and my cell phone out of $$? When I was able to reload my cell I had to start from the beginning again. And sure enough, what did I hear? “Thank you for your patience.” And this time, I let them have it, a good five-minute rant with words that would make a trucker blush. I won’t type them here.
    Another recording I love to hate is the “This call may be monitored.” This also usually comes right about the time when you’ve been on hold till your deodorant has worn off, your fingernails have grown an extra inch, the dark roots are showing under your incredibly expensive new foil job, and the cat threatens to turn you into the ASPCA if you don’t feed her immediately. So what do I say to “This call may be monitored?” I certainly *&#@%$^ hope so!!!

    • I love this comment! Hilarious! Thanks for sharing that experience with me…though it wasn’t very funny to you, you found a way to write it funny…love that!

  15. I guess I’m a pushover because when this happens to me, I simply breathe in for the count of 3, hold it for 3, and exhale for 3 more. I find is centers me and rids of the negative energy building up inside. Ok, the real truth is it takes a lot to piss me off, but when it happens it is so ugly, out of control, and teary. I hate going to that place. So, I breathe……

    • Okay then girlfriend, keep breathing…but I don’t think of it as “negative” energy. Just want to make them aware that passive aggressive doesn’t cut it…they haven’t fooled me a bit. But I’m very happy to hear that breathing works for you :)

  16. My response is the same as Charles Ray’s. But a better one might be a bitter laugh, followed by: “Well, I didn’t exactly have a choice, did I?”
    To me, the downside of responding with anything other than silence is that a comment will prolong the conversation. And that’s the last thing I want!

  17. *giggle* Jacquie… You are sooooooo…. cool!! Honestly!! Can you imagine what words had formed in MY head for all the patience I had to show while waiting on the phone for this certain amount of time while I had actually planned “just to call and make something clear”?
    First it takes you 5 minutes to even have someone on the phone that answers back – and then THIS!!
    And here YOU are, showing me what would be just the PERFECT thing to say – and even made me giggle!!
    Thanks for sharing this – and of course – thanks for the hint! :-)

  18. I giggled at this one. Thank you for your patience NEVER EVER means thank you. It’s a passive aggressive phrase reserved for those in the service industry who should NOT be in the service industry. I have rarely heard it used appropriately and when it is, there is generally an apology attached to it.

    When I hear it, like Charles, I remain silent, perhaps a raised eyebrow. I trust they know that my silence is not consent, it’s me plotting. I believe that if someone does not want to provide good service or at least polite service, I should give them what they want most and take my business elsewhere.

    • I’m so happy that this post gave you a bit of fun today! And passive aggressive is the MOST proper term for this behavior…you are right…they know “the look” isn’t consent! And that’s what I do too….tkse my business elsewhere, UNLESS I can’t go elsewhere, like Comcast. They are the only provider in my area!

  19. Hilarious.

    Most of the infuriating phone holds don’t even say “thank you” anymore, just “We appreciate your patience.” What does THAT mean? Especially if I haven’t any? In those cases I’d like to say, “and I’d appreciate getting this resolved now so I can go back to my day” or “I’d appreciate you too if you did your GD job” but I don’t… Because by then they’ve got you over a barrel and one push of a button might send your entire digital, virtual, “cloud account” spinning straight out of orbit… :)

  20. Bravo! So true. Happens all the time and who really is patient when you’re on hold for so long that the hold music becomes an earworm that plays over and over in your head long after you’ve hung up the phone? Some “business expert” must have decided that thanking the customer for their patience would diffuse any confrontation about waiting and that apologizing would only show weakness on their part and give the power to the customer–and that that is a bad thing. How about having a little empathy instead? Next time that happens, I’m going to respond with “Actually, I wasn’t patient and I think you owe me an apology for making me wait so long.”

    • I’m sure that you are right about some business “expert” coming up this this ludicrous phrase. But I think “we” are catching on! Love your response and maybe if eenough of us refute the whole damn thing, the business experts will have to retreat into their little cubicles and come up with something more suitable. Thanks Deb!

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