Short and To The Point Got Scammed

Scammed I say!

This Week in Our Dumb World

The Airbnb Scam That Happened To Me

Yes, this is a fantastic article that details a common scam on AirBnB, and along the way, it successfully highlights all the ways that platforms are incentivized to screw their users in favor of “super users” regardless of the legality of their actions. So yes, read it if you want to understand why so many cities are turning against AirBnB (along with a similar issue with the way AirBnB tends to drive up rent by reducing supply).

BUT ALSO THIS TOTALLY HAPPENED TO ME (and Emily and Bill and Kylie).

We went to Long Beach for a wedding, and it was suggested that we get an AirBnB instead of getting hotel rooms because it would be cheaper for the four of us to split something like that. I looked around, and amidst mostly disappointing listings, there was an attractive lofted townhouse apartment that looked great and was close to the wedding venue. Great. Booked it.

Now, Bill and Kylie arrived first so they met the sketchy guy who handed them the key and explained to them that we wouldn’t have a key fob to get in and out of the building and we would just have to hang out in front of the building until someone let us in which would be fine because, as he said “it’s pretty busy”. So this is obviously bad news step one. Bad news step two is that we aren’t given the keys to a charming lofted townhouse, but are instead given the keys to a sad flophouse of a two-bedroom that had basically no furniture and no dishes. I believe it had 3 towels. Bill and Kylie are told an elaborate story about how they had to give us this one instead of the one we wanted, but not to worry because it’s “bigger”. I find all this out when Emily and I get to this place at like… 10:30 at night. It is too late to care. We we sleep in the (terrible) bed. Also, the bed was the only furniture in the bedroom. There was a bed and one lamp.

The next day, Bill and I take a walk to get coffee and breakfast, and I decide that I am going to message our “host” and complain. I’m annoyed (I don’t like Airbnb to begin with), but I’m not angry or anything at this point. I send a very polite message explaining that this was not the place we requested and, combined with the general shabbiness, was so disappointing that I would like a partial refund. The “host” absolutely flipped out and got so mad and asked us to leave. After some less than polite text messages (and threats on the hosts part), I agreed.

And so we all went and put four adults in a double queen hotel room and became better friends.

Now, this is when I contacted AirBnB to discuss this terrible situation. At first, the customer service representative was super helpful and deeply apologetic. Then they got more information, and they became a LOT less helpful. And it turns out they were full of accusations that had been passed on by the “host.” So now I have to spend a lot of time on the phone with them to reach even a partial resolution. Then I have to spend many many more phone calls with them and supervisors and other people to try and get even some of my money back (2 months later I got 75% back).

I left a bad review and got one in return.

Say what you want about hotels, but at least they usually are the hotel in the pictures.

Anyways, fuck Airbnb.

H/T Bill Murray, who was there when this all happened and sent me this.

Around a month before, a first Airbnb host had already canceled, leaving us with little time to figure out alternative housing. While scrambling to find something else, I stumbled upon a local Airbnb rental listed by a couple, Becky and Andrew. Sure, the house looked a little basic in the photos online, but it was nice enough, especially considering the time crunch—light-filled, spacious, and close to the Blue Line.

Now, we were facing our second potential disaster in 30 days, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly suspicious of the man on the phone, who had called me from a number with a Los Angeles area code. Hoping to talk in person, I asked him if he was in the area. He said that he was at work and didn’t really have time to chat. Then he added that I needed to decide immediately if I was willing to change my reservation.

As if he could hear me calculating in my head how much of a hassle it would be to find a hotel instead, he then added something else to his pitch. 

“It’s about three times bigger,” the man said. “That’s the good news.” 

The bad news, which went unstated, was that I had unknowingly stumbled into a nationwide web of deception that appeared to span eight cities and nearly 100 property listings—an undetected scam created by some person or organization that had figured out just how easy it is to exploit Airbnb’s poorly written rules in order to collect thousands of dollars through phony listings, fake reviews, and, when necessary, intimidation. Considering Airbnb’s lax enforcement of its own policies, who could blame the scammers for taking advantage of the new world of short-term rental platforms? They had every reason to believe they could do so with impunity.

The Men Who Are Killing Women’s Professional Sports

Women's sports are always treated differently in terms of coverage and marketing. When people talk about women's sports, it's almost always in terms of what they are not. It is in terms of the money that they don't make. The ratings they don't get.

Which is crazy because sports are the most valuable property in all of the broadcast media right now. They're literally the only thing that people watch live anymore. So why on earth would you treat these sports as broken instead of a property to be developed? Why on earth are people spending their time denigrating something that could, with work, make them huge money?

I think you know why.

Yes, U.S. Soccer’s support has been crucial for the NWSL. But let’s not pretend that that it wasn’t a mutually beneficial investment. Having a viable domestic league to keep elite U.S. players in the United States has been crucial to growing the domestic fanbase, developing USWNT players, and even growing the coaching pipeline — Andonovski has coached in the NWSL for all seven of its seasons, five as the head coach of Kansas City FC, and two as the head coach of the Seattle Reign. 

The USWNT has had its most success since the launch of the NWSL — it won the past two World Cups, as you might have heard, and before that, had not won a World Cup since 1999.

And yet, despite the obvious ways the league benefits U.S. Soccer, the governing body has often neglected to nurture the NWSL, and insisted on spreading the message that it is a league in peril.

It’s mystifying. And, while it’s not an apples to apples comparison, it reminds me so much of the way NBA commissioner Adam Silver (and David Stern before him) has often talked about the WNBA. During the rare moments when journalists have asked him about the WNBA, Silvery starts his answer by citing how much money the WNBA is losing, and how disappointed he is in its growth.

Last year, after Silver went onto ESPN and complained about the lack of attendance at WNBA games, two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne snapped back.

“First of all, the negativity in those comments need to stop, because there’s enough trolls out there,” Delle Donne told me last year in an interview on the feminist sports podcast I co-host, Burn It All Down. 

“We need our leaders to be showing the brightness of the future of the WNBA.”

The Terrible Rentals Of London

Look, I think most all of us have lived in at least one terrible apartment, but I can say that my worst living situation had nothing on these horrifying and profoundly expensive apartments.

Also, London is officially apartment hell and I cannot imagine trying to live there.

(The picture link takes you to a specific apartment. The title link takes you to them aaaalllllllll)

H/T Sarah Dougherty

There are so, so, so, so many levels of disorder to this tiny one-bed flat that I can barely keep my head from spinning off and hovering into the air like a helicopter just by looking at it, but let’s start with the kitchen, which features stairs seemingly made in the year 1 BC that have been allowed to erode and flop under the weight of millions of footsteps ever since, a single kitchen cupboard the width of a pen – which I think you can store maybe three cans of beans inside of, and literally nothing else – and a wedge of staircase-adjacent concrete that looms over the windowed door to what I'm pretty sure is the bathroom:

Behind that (same room) (you are still in the kitchen) you've got a white sofa that faces a mirrored wall so you can just sit and stare at yourself as you wonder where you'd ever fit a TV, which is next to a fridge (?) and cupboard–combo that sits in front of your only window, meaning you can neither see out of the window nor draw the curtains either open or closed behind the window (you still need to navigate a single standing column if you are going to operate the curtains), and also – as a sidebar – the curtains do not even reach the top of the window, so you have a constant source of light-leak from a window you cannot even benefit from, remotely, at all.

Finding Comfort In The Community

I don’t know quite how to describe this essay. It’s a wander through community and self both inward and outward. It’s the way that cultural outreach matters. It’s a lot of things. Mostly it’s about the powerful feeling of being embraced and welcomed into a culture. It’s about how it feels when a culture broadcasts your self back to you and the sense of belonging that grants.

It’s good.

I only ever met one of my grandfathers. His name was Sip. (“Sip” was short for Sipriano. He was “Sipriano Serrano,” which is a name that I have always been impressed by.) He was my dad’s dad. He died when I was in elementary school. I don’t remember much about him. I don’t remember if he had a big voice or a small voice. I don’t remember if he glided when he walked or if all his movements were angular. I don’t remember if he was nice or mean or indifferent. I don’t remember what it felt like to hug him or whether I was scared of him whenever he’d focus in on me for a conversation. I don’t remember any of that. Mind you, I can guess at answers for each of those things based on context clues (small voice; angular motion; nice to me; an above-average hugger; awkward in conversation, though likely that would’ve been on account of him being old and my being an idiot). But those are just guesses; hazy ideas formed from hazier halves of the haziest quarter-memories.

But there are two things about him that I have at the front of my brain, and I know they will live there forever.

The first is what he smelled like.

It was a coalescence of OLD MEXICAN MAN MUSK and MOTOR OIL. He smelled that way because he worked as a mechanic. Or, more accurately than that: He smelled that way because he lived at his mechanic shop. And I don’t say that in the romantic sense, as in, “Oh, man. He really worked hard. He spent a lot of time at the shop. He basically lived there, haha.” I say that in the literal sense. He literally lived there. Because his tiny house was attached to his tiny shop. He would wake up and be at work. And he would go to sleep and be at work. And he would eat his dinner and be at work. And he would have a day off from work and be at work. It was all one compound: living room, bathroom, brake lathe, bed, engine hoist, kitchen, strut compressor, etc. It was all right there, jumbled together. And so since his professional life and personal life were mushed permanently into one, so too was his OLD MEXICAN MAN MUSK smell and the MOTOR OIL smell.

The second is the pan dulce.

White Coke

I have to tell you, I absolutely can’t believe that this isn’t about racist cola stuff (It’s about weird soviet cola stuff).

H/T Rob Hebert