Recognizing that the cell phone is both an intimate device and also a commodity, two repair shops in Washington DC have responded to this tension in two strikingly different ways: the first seeks to create trust through open display of a virtuoso performance, while the second aims to reassure anxious customers with a rationalized, bureaucratized model of service akin to a medical visit. In both cases, the service offered is a performative display of communicative competence that includes a châine opératoire ‘operational sequence’ of semiosis in which material and linguistic resources are part and parcel of the same process. Building upon our earlier work, we argue that both strategies involve a form of fetishistic disavowal: of the collaborative nature of repair on the one hand and of the commodity chain on the other