SXSW Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Lack Of Ticket Refunds

SXSW was scheduled to take place in March in Austin, Texas, before being cancelled to coronavirus concerns.

In its first cancellation during its 34 year run, South By Southwest (SXSW) which takes place over 10 days in Austin, Texas – originally scheduled for March 12-20 – suffered a major blow after the city of Austin prohibited the occurrence of the festival due to growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Although evidently in the best interest of the safety of citizens and festival goers, especially considering the gravity to which this pandemic has grown and affected us all in unprecedented ways: unfortunately SXSW’s insurance covered almost everything that could possibly go wrong – except for “bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics.” Sadly, this put the parent company SXSW LLC in an extremely difficult position, being forced to lay off a third of its 175 year-round employees.

SXSW has found itself in hot water once again as they are now being hit with a class action lawsuit on behalf of all those who were not offered refunds after the festivals cancellation.

In the suit, filed on April 24th in the U.S District Court Western District of Texas Austin Division by Maria Bromley and Kleber Pauta, the plaintiffs claim breach of contract and unjust enrichment: along with the claim they spent more than $1000 each to attend the event.

In lieu of the cancellation, the festival organisers announced that considering a no-refund policy, along with the event serving as the business’ main source income – pass and ticket holders would be offered free registration for the 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions of the festival along with a 50% discount for an additional year.

In a statement to Billboard, a SXSW spokesperson stated:

Due to the unique nature of SXSW’s business, where we are reliant on one annual event, we incurred extensive amounts of non-recoupable costs well in advance of March. These expenditures, and the loss of expected revenue, have resulted in a situation where we do not have the money to issue refunds. SXSW, like many small businesses across the country, is in a dire financial situation requiring that we rely on our contracts, which have a clearly stated no refunds policy. Though we wish we were able to do more, we are doing our best to reconcile the situation and offered a deferral package option to purchasers of 2020 registrations.

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