Somewhere along the way Americans have made the phrase, “no problem” a normal response to an expression of gratitude. For the most part, it is considered a proper reply and people fail to realize what they are actually saying. Or, perhaps it is just me, who finds the rather jarring and has a tiny hope of starting a revolution to raise awareness of the phrase’s improper use.
When a person expresses thanks (and one can only hope that it is done so with deep sincerity) the proper response is “You are welcome.” The use of “no problem” in substitution of this response indicates that there IS or could have been a problem and, with the use of “no problem” are saying there is not an issue–when the truth is that your actions were of great help. This can be seen as offensive to a person expressing gratitude because they are attempting to give thanks and show appreciation for your actions, to which the response of “no problem” indicates that what you have done was not a big deal–was a possible problem that was avoided–when perhaps your actions were a big deal, were greatly appreciated, for whoever is thanking you. The gratitude then, seems to go unheard and is felt unwelcome. The proper response should indicate your humility in aiding as well as using positive, rather than negative, language: “Certainly,” “You’re welcome,” “My pleasure.”
In addition, a person in the service industry has a job that requires helping others. “No problem” indicates that you might have better things to do, but isn’t serving others you job? I should certainly hope it is not a problem!