the anecdata project


 What is Anecdata? “Anecdata” lies somewhere between a scientific study and a one-off experience. It is an event or occurrence or practice that is more than a one-off but which has not necessarily occurred so frequently that it is capable of empirical study.

The purpose of the Anecdata Book Project is to gather over a thousand actual customer service experiences, and to organize them in a meaningful way, extracting principles of what constitutes “good” and what constitutes “bad” customer service from these stories. The results, after being distorted and contorted by the Project Director, will be published in what hopefully will be an amusing, informative, but also instructive, book.

The publication will be aimed to the general public, but its highest and best use will be as an easy-to-read educational tool to businesses.

It is not the intent to embarrass businesses that offer poor customer service; it is to give other businesses some benchmarks and creative insights about how other industries and providers approach customer service issues. In some cases, the Anecdata stories may be inspirational; in other situations, they may resemble a comedy of errors or indifference to the customer’s needs or expectations. Names of the poor customer services will generally be omitted, thus protecting the guilty, but providers of good customer service will generally be identified.

RBarkoff High-ColorMr. Barkoff is a self-appointed expert on customer service. According to Mr. Barkoff, “I have been a customer all of my life—over 65 years! Shouldn’t that make me an expert at least in some areas of customer service?”

A native of New Orleans, Mr. Barkoff attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 1970. He then continued his education in Ann Arbor, receiving his JD degree in 1973, graduating magna cum laude and being selected for membership in the Order of the Coif.

Since law school Mr. Barkoff has been practicing with a major law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently serves as Chair of its Franchise Team. He focuses his practice on franchise law. He has been voted one of the five most respected franchise lawyers in the world, and one of the Best Lawyers in America in the franchising category. He was Co-Editor-in-Chief of Fundamentals of Franchising, a book designed to introduce novices to the basics of franchising law, and served as Technical Editor for the First Edition of Franchising for Dummies. He was the second recipient of the American Bar Association’s Lew Rudnick Award for his contributions to the field of franchise law and to the American Bar Association’s Forum on Franchising. He has published over 250 pieces on franchise law. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of the University of Georgia Law School and a Founding Member of the Georgia State University Business School’s Franchise Advisory Committee. Prior to joining his current law firm, his last job was cutting grass.

Despite his demanding day job, Mr. Barkoff’s passion is customer service. He began keeping notes on customer service situations several years ago, and conceived the idea of the Anecdata Customer Service Project in 2006, after hearing so many of his friends acting passive-aggressively on the subject of customer service – complaining about poor service but failing to take steps to correct the situation, or, for that matter, even to voice their concerns to the service provider.


Mr. Barkoff  has concluded that when he decides to hang up his legal spurs, his focus on this customer service project will keep him mentally fit. In addition to the Anecdata book project, Mr. Barkoff has recently setup a second website, a blog located at, where he reports on what he labels as “Grumps” – a complaint about politics, business, and social situations or occurrences that he encounters. Unlike Anecdata, readers are encouraged to comment upon the Grumps or to submit Grumps of their own which may but need not have connections with the posted Grumps.

Submit Your Story

Click the button to share your experiences with us.