Airbnb is a Scam to Guests as well as Hosts

Airbnb supposedly gives you the opportunity of choosing a cancellation policy when you list your property. I have chosen a strict cancellation policy. A woman booked my apartment in Cap Cana three months ago for Christmas and New Years, a 14-day stay. I gave her a discount price for the two-week stay.

Six days before checking in, I received a message from Airbnb stating that they cancelled her reservation and fully refunded the client due to extenuating circumstances. Apparently the client lives in Venezuela and one of the guests needed a visa to visit Dominican Republic.

First of all, I did not know that the guest was coming from Venezuela since in her verified information she said that she lives in Miami. Secondly I never receive any call nor was contacted by Airbnb staff before they decided unilaterally to cancel and full refund her.

They said that she provided evidence to them. Airbnb had her rental money for three months and then cancelled and left me without any rental in the high season. They did not try to help at all. They even lied when confronted, saying that they contacted me, which was not true. If we were the ones cancelling in order to forfeit the penalty under extenuating circumstances we would have to have a lot of paperwork in order for them to consider it.

I asked them to reconsider. They rejected my plead. I asked them to at least give us a partial refund, but they did not. Airbnb does not consider hosts; they do not care about us at all. It seems they do not realize that without our properties they are just a mere application. Their customer service is the worst. They charge a fee for nothing.

Taking to the Media – Robbed by Airbnb and Guest

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Not only did a guest rob me and cause over $7000 in theft and damages, Airbnb will not release the $2000 the guest paid to stay there. So as of right now I’m out $9000 and Airbnb could care less. Anyone that can help you will not email or call back. The company makes false promises to help. There is zero accountability at this company. They will not give you their last names, only their first. Hosts beware!

Believe it or not, the cops have been easier and more helpful than Airbnb. They have made thousands of dollars off of my properties but will do everything to not help me. Upper management at this company should be appalled at the practices and procedures they have set forth. I’m going to the Orlando Sentinel on Friday. I think I have a pretty good case for a five-minute bit on the 6:00 news in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

Beware Hosting on Airbnb: One Negative Review

To potential Airbnb hosts: beware of Airbnb. I’ve had it. The rating system is a complete joke. I’ve had a number of great reviews from people that love my two units, but I just had someone give me a one-star review because the dishwasher wasn’t working (took one minute to unclog) and a light bulb in the hall was out.

Clearly the man was in distress as he was visiting Philly to get his wife medical treatment, and he said he had never stayed at an Airbnb before. When he was clearly unhappy, I offered him a full refund, including cleaning fees. He took the refund and blasted my apartment, lying through his teeth about the apartment, and the neighborhood, stuff that is just total nonsense, and easily disproved.

This cost me almost $400 for the stay, but then my listing was put on hold for five days because it dropped below 4.2 stars. In his review, this guy said the “neighborhood is dirty”, which honestly, I’m not even sure what that means. The property is exactly one mile from UPenn on a main drag, in University City in West Philly. If he wanted an apartment in Center City, he would have paid double what I charge for mine.

Anyway, I contacted Airbnb to see if they would consider removing the review, knowing that the robots that work for them would stick to the script. Honestly, somebody should tell the management that the people who answer the phone are not helpful at all, ever. I really think they are automatons. They follow a formula/script whenever you call in, taking calls from a call center somewhere outside of the US, and they never stray from the set procedures for their precious review system.

If someone doesn’t post something universally offensive, no matter how preposterous, they will not change a guest review. Airbnb pretty much always sides with the guest. It’s a very lopsided review system. Again, this guy had never stayed at an Airbnb before. He may never again. I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into this property and have given Airbnb so much, and they don’t care about me.

Well, I’ve had it. I’m going to try out the competition, and I hear good things about them. I could bring so many more properties online with this company, but will I? Airbnb now offers me $700 now to refer hosts, but they don’t seem to value me as a host.

Listen to my Warning about Using Airbnb

I have used Airbnb a lot during a period, and advise people not to use it (at least the budget accommodations, a bit cheaper than a hotel, but sometimes not).

I found 5 out of 10 hosts had a criminal record (even money laundering) and the rest had serious financial troubles. Many people who rent out rooms are in desperate situations because of their personality and choices they have made. Desperation makes bad hosts. They all have introductions about how they love to meet people from different cultures, but most rent solely to make a buck the easy way. Many lie about their work (unemployed, fired, criminality). I have found mobsters use Airbnb a lot to launder money.

Reviews are wildly exaggerated positively, as guests seem to lie just to be able to stay cheaply (poor? stingy?). It is a veritable lalaland, to be found nowhere else. On Airbnb, hosts, guests, and the company seem to have some kind of joint psychosis.

Indecent sexual advances are quite common. I have had one sexual assault (he broke into my cottage) and several other highly inappropriate Superhosts. Most hosts lie: inaccurate photos, how many people are living there, internet, breakfast, location, noise, busy roads, etc. Lying is standard on Airbnb.

Airbnb does not give a s$#t, as long as it does not give bad publicity. They just want money and do not care about your safety at all. Their standards are abysmal. Airbnb destroys the housing market globally and actually promotes greed. If you are not extremely poor, stay at a hotel. It will also be cheaper in the end (proper breakfast, etc.), and you will not have to deal with shady hosts and unplanned negative surprises. Stay safe.

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Italian Airbnb Serial Bait and Switch Cancellations

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A group of six UK pensioners, including one seriously ill from multiple sclerosis, had their six-months-in-advanced booked double 70th birthday celebration dream holiday to Florence, Italy cancelled the morning of check-in by a bait and switch scammer.

This “Superhost” was allowed to rack up 39 separate cancellations in a year. Rather than react to complaints and repeated scams, Airbnb simply did nothing, allowing him to ruin ten other families’ holidays over the next two months as new victims flew in from as far as the US, Algeria, and China. On the day of check-in, they found their “booked” apartment cancelled, forcing them to either take his alternative or be stranded in Florence, thousands of miles from home.

The “Romantic Flat in Historical Centre” with its high beautifully decorated ceilings, luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms and large dining area, looking out onto Il dumo, the famous domed cathedral in the centre of Florence, was used as bait to trap unsuspecting families into booking with the host. However, after flying thousands of miles to start their holiday months later, the flaky host shockingly informed them upon arrival in Italy that their booking was in fact cancelled, using excuses ranging from “the family needs it back up as an emergency” to “there has been a burst water main”.

He then offered a replacement, a run-of-the-mill bog-standard apartment, miles outside the centre of Florence and a far cry from the luxury of the booked one. This was done “as a favour” to the duped holiday makers, either at the same price or at a premium, as it was the middle of high season; “unfortunate, but that’s how it is.”

The group of pensioners were old friends who had booked the apartment in December to celebrate a double 70th birthday. One of the group, a 78-year old, had unfortunately been diagnosed with a serious case of multiple sclerosis two years before and his health and mobility had worsened drastically. This debilitating disease meant that this would be his final trip abroad. He loved Florence and Italy and was determined to enjoy it.

The pain caused by even basic movement such as walking meant that he had special requirements such as as a bath – he was unable to stand in a shower safely – and also an entrance with a lift, as stairs were also hugely problematic. They had booked this apartment so far in advance to ensure that his special needs were catered for, with two baths a lift, no steps and four bedrooms with a large dining area provided. They were also in the centre of Florence, minimising difficulty travelling.

However, when they were informed that instead of the luxury four-bedroom apartment that they had booked six months ago and had looked forward to, they were instead offered an insufficient three-bedroom flat, miles outside Florence, or otherwise find an alternative in the middle of summer season on the same day that they had flown in. They were forced to look for any last minute alternative and as you can imagine, none even remotely comparable, or suitable, were available.

They were forced to book two separate locations, via Booking.com, one thirty minutes outside paying a lot more, for a lot less, due to the last minute arrangements and total lack of availability. There were no baths, and there were no lifts resulting in a host of unwelcome mobility issues simply washing and entering and exiting the properties. The size and standard of the décor was woefully inferior to our original booking, being stuck with small, dark rooms with a lack of closet space.

One of the main and important features that we had most sought after was the large dining area, enabling us to eat together in our own comfortable and relaxed environment, without the hassle and stress – and expense – of having to eat out all the time. Neither of our replacement properties had a dining area even remotely sufficient to house all six of us, meaning we had to eat every single meal out, burdening everyone with significant additional unwanted expenses.

Instead of buying breakfast materials at a supermarket, every breakfast cost about €80 and each lunch and dinner at least in excess of €120. Suddenly, an additional £2,525.76 had to be immediately found and paid by six pensioners, most of whom had scrimped and saved to get the original sum paid, forcing them into debt and incredibly difficult, stressful situations as they attempted to source their share in just a few hours. This also impacted greatly on spending money available on the holiday.

The main intention of the holiday, namely living together, was now gone. Instead of a joint holiday and a joint birthday, they were now two separate parties, and a full fifteen minutes apart from each other by car. This meant that rather than being in the same property and location, they now had the difficulty, as well as the additional expense, of having to use taxis to transport one party to the other numerous times daily.

This resulted in significant previously unnecessary monies having to be spent over the duration of the holiday, not to mention the organisational and operational stress and effort and the extra time that this all took, getting everyone too and from the two separate locations, miles apart and away from the centre of Florence. Indeed, one of the elderly couples did not even have smartphones, which caused several difficult situations. These issues ruined everyone’s enjoyment of the holiday and sucked away time earmarked to enjoy the city and each other’s company, as originally planned and intended.

When the group got back after this spoiled expensive and ruined holiday, they investigated the host in greater detail and was shocked to discover that he had perpetuated the same cancellation trick on 29 other families during the preceding nine months, almost every single week. The group immediately complained to Airbnb but they tried to pass it off as an “isolated incident” and refused to take action. They then refused to compensate the group for the loss of enjoyment suffered and the fact that they had fallen victim to a scam artist, closing the matter.

The group persisted with their complaints and tried to highlight the scam. Eventually, three months later, they relented and offered to refund the difference between the booked holiday and the replacement one. This still did not address the loss of enjoyment or the issues raised and the group was concerned that the scammer was still free to continue with the trick.

Airbnb’s case resolution specialist had now gotten involved, promising a fair and unbiased investigation. He eventually came to the conclusion that the “matter was wholly unacceptable, and Airbnb does not tolerate this kind of behaviour. When the reservation was cancelled the host was penalised in violation of our hosting standard. This would greatly impact his hosting here at Airbnb.”

When pressed what the penalty was, or how exactly it “would greatly impact his hosting at Airbnb”, he repeatedly refused to say. He also refused the claim for compensation, only offering €181 (the difference spent) to resolve the matter without addressing damages and loss of enjoyment suffered. He also failed to say why the host hadn’t been stopped from operating.

The elderly group were shocked to discover that since their complaint, the host had continued to repeat the scam, accepting bookings for the apartment in central Florence and then cancelling on the day of check in, once the families had arrived in Italy. Since the complaint was made by the elderly group, he had cancelled bookings a further ten times in two months with seven of those cancellations done on the day of check in when families had already landed in Italy from countries such as Brazil, USA, China, Algeria and UK. Each one had left comments on their dreadful experience on the host’s page:

“[The host] cancelled the booking three hours before the check-in when I was already in Firenze. Even before the cancellation, he did not reply to my inquiry. Out of blue, without responding to none of my inquiry, he cancelled. The only explanation I got was that he had an issue to accommodate me and my company. This has never happened to me during my use of service provided by the Airbnb. I am strongly against his status as super host given his irresponsible and unthoughtful dealing of the situations.”

“The host cancelled on us the morning of our reservation (without explanation) which totally messed up all our plans. Looking at his history this happens often. Beware when booking. This guy is flaky!”

“Bait and switch scam artist! Do not book with this person. They show one apt and when you show up, they try to give you a dump not even comparable while you feel like a fish over a barrel. Leaving you and your family 1000’s of miles from home with little choice. Find another rental. This guy is a fake and a scammer!”

“Avoid! Well where to start. Unfortunately we never got to stay at this host’s Airbnb. We had been confirmed for many weeks. On the run up to our holiday I messaged [the host] numerous times regarding checking in process but he didn’t respond. On the day of arrival [the host] sent a computerised cancellation with no explanation or apology leaving us stranded in Florence with no where to stay! Airbnb were good in assisting with our situation but this should not have been necessary and to date we still have had no apology or explanation from [the host]. Avoid at all costs, it’s just not worth it best book somewhere where you can actually stay.”

The damning evidence was sent to Airbnb, demanding why they had not acted since their complaint and stopped the host from repeating the scam. However, Airbnb refused to respond. Our party is in the process of taking Airbnb to court for loss of enjoyment and damages and essentially causing their problem by allowing this person to perpetuate thirty cancellations before they had even booked with him.

Airbnb is responsible for their and indeed all of the 39 victims cases. If Airbnb had cared about its customers’ suffering at the hands of this con-artist, then they would have immediately shut him down. However, they were getting commission out of it, regardless of how that commission was earned, and allowed – and continue to allow – scammers to operate in this disgraceful and damaging way within its business.

Incredibly, the group discovered that subsequently all of the negative reviews (above) have now been removed, allowing more unsuspecting victims to suffer. Now, unbelievably, only 15 reviews (instead of the 498, including the 39 cancellations) are viewable, with him receiving 4.93 out of 5 stars. This disgraceful fact shows exactly how Airbnb operates and the sad fact is that this host continues to operate in this shady way today.

This sad and murky episode is completely unacceptable. People should start voting with their feet and spreading the word that Airbnb is not deserving of their business. There is a clear and real danger that if you book with them then the booking is fake and will be cancelled when you arrive.

Do not trust Airbnb. Do not use Airbnb. They will leave you stranded. It’s all about the money for them. They do not care about your welfare.

Guests can Extort because Airbnb doesn’t Enforce its Policies

The Airbnb Extortion Policy prohibits “guests threatening to use reviews or ratings in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds.” However, Airbnb doesn’t appear serious about enforcing this policy, so guests can happily extort hosts to provide refunds for any frivolous concocted reason. Hosts have little recourse because the guest can always state their frivolous reason as their “personal experience” in their review and leave a one-star review in retaliation if their unreasonable demands are not met.

Here is what happened in my case. The guest knew at check-in that there was another concurrent guest’s dog on the property in the shared apartment listing but she claims she did not know that at the time of booking and that my not telling her that explicitly was unacceptable. She knew within moments of check-in that there was a dog locked in the other guest’s private space.

I offered to have the dog moved to a downstairs room on a different floor and she simply said “It’s fine. I just feel bad for the [locked up] dog.” It remained locked on a room on her floor. At nearly midnight of her last night’s stay, she messaged saying she was unhappy because of the dog’s crying (probably wanting to be taken out) and that she was allergic to dogs (surprise).

I immediately apologized and sought to address the situation but within moments of my response, she sent me another message saying she moved to a hotel and asked me to refund that last night’s stay with what was clearly a veiled threat, “I am keenly aware of review issues and I have no intention of leaving a bad review… I have left and moved to a hotel. I realize it is late and you cannot book someone for this night. However, I would appreciate a refund of tonight’s fee.”

I politely reminded her that her booking was on a strict cancellation policy, so I could not refund her. She went to write several long messages about why she deserved to be refunded, threatened escalating it to Airbnb or a credit card chargeback, tried all the escalations, and lost because her case had no merit. She retaliated by leaving a one-star review as was clearly implicit in her earlier threatening message (quoted above).

Airbnb seemingly considers her review to not violate its Content Policy because it allows a guest to state whatever they want as their “personal experience” and doesn’t seem to care to stand by its extortion policy. A guest can simply blackmail hosts by asking them for refunds on frivolous grounds, and even if they don’t explicitly threaten a bad review like in my case, the host knows the implicit threat exists.

There is little the host can do about a bad review. A guest could literally say, “I felt cheated because the place’s location felt like it was on the moon, so the listed location felt inaccurate” and leave a one-star review and Airbnb won’t do anything about it.

A reasonable customer service rep might help get it removed but that is rare and their policy is such that it explicitly allows guests to report obviously verifiable lies as their personal experience (as long as it doesn’t violate other parts of the Content Policy, like no discrimination, hate speech, etc.). Seems like a poorly worded Content Policy or at least a poorly enforced one.

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Guest has to Cancel and I Shouldered the Cancellation Fee

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I am first time host and new to Airbnb, so I am still learning how to navigate the Airbnb system and their app. I accidentally posted two listings for one unit, which I thought would just promote my property. I received a booking from my first guest on August 22nd, which would have booked the guest from August 24th until September 8th.

I received another booking from a second guest. I was wondering why I received another booking, because the dates the first guest booked should already be blocked from my calendar. The second guest was still able to book my property. I called the second guest to explain that my place was already booked, and that I have no other property that I can offer her. The best way that I thought at that moment was for her to cancel the booking.

When she did, I received a message or email from the second guest requesting to cancel her booking. I thought I should click the cancel button which is displayed in the email from Airbnb because it said that I needed to respond to it within 24 hours. Not thinking that I would be charged the entire amount that the second guest booked, I cancelled her reservations, without knowing what would happen.

I just feel discourage from this incident. I feel that I have been ripped off by Airbnb. My second guest had to cancel her reservation five days before her arrival which I thought was more than ample time but I’m the one who is going to pay or be fined the entire amount she booked. Now tell me if that is fair.

I bought new towels and bed sheets, and cleaned and prepared my property for my guest. I provide the best service and amenities for my guest. However, with one mistake that I request my guest cancel her reservation and respond to it, I had to pay more than 60% of my total income this August. Is that fair?

Airbnb will get 60% of my total income from my property. What is left for me? I will pay my condo monthly dues, electric, and water. What is left of my pay out for august is not even enough to cover these bills. I just think it’s not fair for first timer hosts to be fine with losing such an amount. That is a lot more than my payout. If we give our clients a full refund as long as they cancel 24 hours or more before their check in, then why don’t we also do that and be considerate of hosts, especially first timer hosts?

It wasn’t my fault that I received a double booking. So why fine me? I don’t feel good about this. I’m afraid to continue listing my property here on Airbnb. I spent more money just to host and I’m getting less than what I’m supposed to earn. Airbnb gets more money.

Stood up out in Arctic Sweden by Airbnb Host

Airbnb advertised availability for two nights lodging on its website for Kiruna, Sweden for June 8-10. I booked the lodging. Airbnb collected the money. It did not deliver the product, the lodging.

Airbnb’s advertised host did not give me good directions to the site. It took me 60 minutes walking to find it. When I found it, Airbnb’s advertised host did not answer the door. He told Airbnb customer service later that he did not hear me. Yet he knew I had a reservation, and that I was coming, and had received my money.

I purchased the accommodations and paid for them through Airbnb’s website on May 22nd and relied on the Airbnb advertisement on its site that its Airbnb host would provide lodging. He did not. I communicated with the Airbnb host ahead of time, telling him my flight would arrive in Kiruna at 8:20 PM.

I arrived at his front door at 10:30 PM, after asking three different people how to get to his address, as his directions were vague. I knocked on his door twice, loudly. No one answered. As I did not have a phone usable in Sweden, I knocked on his next door neighbor’s door after Airbnb’s host did not answer.

His next door neighbors confirmed that he lived where I knocked. They would not, though, call him to let him know I had arrived. I returned to his house and knocked loudly a third time. No answer. Then I walked to a convenience store a half mile away. The clerk there called him at his advertised number and handed me the phone. There was no answer.

I was stranded in a foreign city I had never visited, knowing no one, without lodging, at 10:45 PM. This was traumatic. Kiruna is in the Arctic; it was cold there. I had only arrived in Sweden that day. This was to be my first night ever in Sweden.

I had to hire a taxi to take me to two different hotels before finding one with availability, and then also find a hotel for June 10th. I had almost no wifi on June 9th as I was traveling on Arctic trains which had very spotty wifi en route to my June 9th stay in a small northern Arctic mountain community with no wifi.

I contacted Airbnb on June 10th and canceled the second night I was to stay with its host, requesting a refund of my fees paid to Airbnb as I could not rely on its host to answer the door for my planned stay there, reimbursement for the replacement lodging I had to find, money for the taxi, and compensation for my inconvenience, worry, stress, and time dealing with the problem.

After writing Airbnb customer service, on June 21st Airbnb refunded me $21 cash. They have refused to refund me or pay for my expenses beyond that, other than to offer Airbnb coupons, which I do not want. On July 1st, I wrote Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, an overnight letter again requesting a refund. His office received my letter on July 2nd. On July 8th I called and left a message for Mr. Chesky with his staff; I also emailed him directly on July 10th. Neither he nor any of his Airbnb staff has responded to my July 1st letter in the past 18 days.

The problem caused me worry, stress, lack of sleep, sleep disruption, and inconvenience during the trip, with a loss of 5.5 hours of time in Sweden on my trip, and 7 hours spent trying to resolve this Airbnb problem after the trip, including emails, phone calls, the CEO letter, and complaints to the California A/G’s office and the Better Business Bureau. It should not take seven hours after a trip is done to resolve a lodging problem during the trip.

Airbnb’s competition is hotels. A hotel would have resolved this situation immediately. I have averaged five Airbnb lodgings per year for the past six years. This is how Airbnb treats its long-time customers. When you need help, they show their real interest (zero) in you and your problem. It is all about the money for them, and all about ignoring problems for them.

My research shows other Airbnb scams/fraudulent activity due to no-show Airbnb hosts. These other Airbnb hosts also stood up other people using Airbnb’s web site like me. These other victims of Airbnb no-show hosts, also making advance payment for lodging as required by Airbnb, were for lodgings in Barbados (2019), Portimao, Portugal (2018), Majorca (2018), and Florence, Italy (2017). In each of these other cases the scam/fraud victims similarly had trouble getting compensation from Airbnb.

This type of continued Airbnb scam/fraud is wrong. Their lack of resolution of this problem, especially for a long-time customer, is despicable and outrageous. It seems like a pattern of fraud/scams on Airbnb’s part, to improve their bottom line. I am willing to and prepared to take them to court if need be.

Moral of this saga: You often save some money with Airbnb vs. a hotel. But if there is a problem, and you booked with Airbnb, tough luck. You are often just plain out of luck. They do not care, unlike hotels. It apparently is Airbnb’s direction from the top, from the CEO on down. Once they have the money, they do not care about helping.

Stranded in Singapore After Customer Service Fiasco

We made a reservation over three months ago after doing careful research and reading reviews about a listing for a property in Singapore for a family vacation. We only travel together once a year; it’s important that we get this right so we took our time to do our research and booked the $1600 stay.

A day before our departure we were contacted by the host that because of an air conditioning problem he would substitute a similar property. Yesterday we arrived and this property was completely unusable. It didn’t even have a sofa; it could not accommodate one person and the host was a bait and switch master. Apparently, in Singapore this is a standard game.

We called Airbnb immediately and asked that we be moved to another property and pleaded with them not to do their stunt where a refund takes ten days to get, isn’t usable, and leaves us stranded. This would not have been the first time this has happened.

I spoke to a case manager who assured me this would be easily and quickly expedited. While I was on the phone with someone the host came to the door of our unit, started pounding, and screaming and physically threatening us. We were on the phone with Airbnb when this happened. We were assured the new case manager that Airbnb would pay for this and that we would be safe and our family would not be at risk. This of course is on the recording of the call.

We started looking for an alternate setting when the host without our permission cancelled the booking and continued to be abusive. Getting a refund in Singapore on the day that you need a reservation is insane.

For the next 24 hours we did nothing but speak to various buffoons, imbeciles, morons, and idiots. We’ve been abused, we’ve been disrespected, and most recently they blocked us. I don’t know what their training model is; it appears to be subterfuge and confidence. They were supposed to issue coupons; they didn’t. They were supposed have some college education; they didn’t. They were supposed to deescalate the situation; they didn’t.

We are stranded in Singapore with nowhere to go and now no money and no coupon. I’m in executive director of a nonprofit and a CEO. I was a psychotherapist and I can tell you Airbnb is doing nothing but harm with their greed. No one should do business with this company and of course I never will again.

They have ruined our vacation that’s been planned for over a year with countless amounts of money spent and time with activities reserved in advance that will now fly out the door. They are so incredibly disrespectful. It really sickens me to talk to Airbnb especially the most recent times where they literally kept us on hold for two hours with nothing to add to the conversation. I feel they are purposely doing so. They didn’t seem to understand that there was a time difference between Singapore in San Francisco. How is it possible that people like this exist?