The Double Bind

Understanding Contradictory Messages

CBC provides three core IT services. Project Consulting, Managed Services, and Break-Fix repair. Regardless of which hat we wear, client interactions inevitably place us in what’s known as a ‘double bind’ situation.

A practical example to illustrate. Assume a client engages for a ‘simple’ break-fix replacement of a laptop hard drive. End users assume this is easily and quickly done. Remove cover, remove old drive, insert new drive, replace cover. 4 steps, what could possibly be ‘hard’ about this?

Glad you asked! Let’s review a few of the ‘easy’ upfront questions we need to answer prior to initiating a repair.

  • Is there data on the old drive requiring recovery or transfer to the new drive?
  • Is there a current backup of the old drive we can use to restore to the new drive?
  • Is there a like-for-like part available or do look at aftermarket replacement?
  • Are there 3rd party applications, (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.), to be reinstalled?
  • Are the 3rd party application license keys available?
  • Is the operating system, (Windows), properly licensed for reinstallation?
  • Is the repair cost-effective compared to a unit replacement?

Armed with answers to the above questions, we determine a course of action. This is when the double bind presents itself. End user expectations are now that we have the answers, the repair proceeds both quickly AND carefully. However we know that if we proceed too quickly and something goes wrong, we weren’t careful enough. If we proceed carefully and something goes wrong, we weren’t quick enough.

As experienced professionals, we are aware of the double bind contradiction and proceed utilizing the experience and best practices acquired over 30+ years. This includes setting appropriate end user expectations. If a potential client does not or is not willing to accept our work methodology, it’s probably not a good fit and both sides should move on.

Double binds are inevitable. The experienced IT professional plans accordingly.

Bye-Bye Birdie

Why We Deactivated Our Twitter Account

CBC deactivated it’s company Twitter account today. We didn’t have a gazillion followers or post a million tweets, nor did ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ move the needle in terms of our strategy and tactics.

We provide leading edge, scaleable, technical solutions solving complex problems for national and multinational organizations; safe, secure, enterprise class managed services to businesses without full-time IT staff; and affordable, quality, break-fix computer service, support, and repair to home office and residential customers.

Twitter, helps us achieve none of those objectives. The platform neither fulfills nor contributes to CBC’s mission. I want to say it was an agonizing process to get here…it wasn’t.

Readers are encouraged to join our Mastodon instance. You’ll find a curated list of posts from past, current and future industry legends, (Dave Winer, Molly White, Howard Rheingold, Cory Doctorow, to name a few). If thoughtful, insightful and provocative commentary on topical items are of interest, please join us.

There is minimal site moderation and we don’t track, advertise, promote or influence.


Almost Verbatim Responses When We Return Phone Calls
  • You didn’t pickup the phone right away
  • Who cares if you were servicing other clients
  • We snowbirds come down 4 months a year…drop everything when we call
  • We found someone ‘cheaper’ — and it took you 10 minutes to respond
  • We found someone ‘cheaper’ — none of us know what the problem is — but he said it would cost $40 — no matter what
  • You helped us 5 years ago…why didn’t you call us back right away
  • I have a tech coming tomorrow — if it doesn’t work out, we’ll call you
  • I saw a sign at the traffic island to call an 800 number for a free repair
  • I’ll send you a screenshot — just tell me what I need to do for the fix
  • Why do i need to replace my perfectly usable 15 year old Windows 7 computer
  • My inkjet printer is 7 years old and cost me $100 — why are you trying to screw me by saying it’s not worth the repair
  • Yes, I want you to drive from North Port to Siesta Key during I-75 rush hour to replace my $20 keyboard –but I’m not paying travel time
  • Why can’t you just replace the Verizon FIOS cable, they will never know

Lowest Cost Bid

We Own A Million Dollar Home But You Aren’t The Cheapest

A classic line we hear from folks in the ‘shopping around’ phase: “I can get it cheaper from Company X.”

Our respectful response: “Then get it cheaper from Company X.”

In a market as competitive as IT services, (where no federal or state license is required), a race to the bottom usually leads to bad behavior — but smart customer know this. The US Navy doesn’t award submarine construction contracts to the lowest bidder. Every great and successful brand is known for something other than lowest cost.

Henry Ford achieved initial success with mass production, interchangeable parts, and efficient manufacturing processes resulting in the lowest cost vehicles on the market. Quickly, Ford realized that people didn’t actually want the cheapest car. They wanted, and still want, a car to be proud of, a bit safer, a bit more stylish, and in the current world we inhabit, maybe a bit more eco friendly.

Everyone wants quality products built by people who care. Not coincidentally, people who care are usually paid a living wage. Their vocation allows them to be productive company contributors, but also productively contribute to their communities.

In the long run, ‘I can get it cheaper’ is a refuge for folks possessing short term, transactional thinking. Ultimately they realize ‘you get what you pay for’ is not just a cliche.

This post is adapted from and thank you Seth for the inspiration!

Quote Requests

Very Real Customer Requests
  • My printer won’t scan, how much to fix it?
  • I have a computer software problem, what do you charge?
  • I need to use my computer for some important work and am leaving for up north soon. Can’t get to my copier either as it’s buried in a mess. Very frustrating. How much to fix?
  • Need to recover data from a USB drive. What will it cost?
  • I’m looking to increase my web traffic/inquiries. How much to make the adjustments?
  • My Surface Pro and MSI laptop no longer work. I would like to get photos off of them. How much would it cost?

In each instance above, when we requested additional/followup information, the person refused to provide any details without a price. If the above customer requests seem reasonable to you — please, please, please don’t contact us.