Class action lawsuit filed against SXSW over no refund policy


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A class action lawsuit has been filed against SXSW over their no refund ticket policy following the cancellation of this year’s festival.

On Friday, March 6, Austin Mayor Steve Adler, along with other city and county leaders, announced that the 2020 South by Southwest festival would be canceled as concerns around the growing COVID-19 pandemic skyrocketed across the nation.

Instead of issuing refunds to attendees, SXSW told registrants they have the option of deferring registration to next year, 2022 or 2023.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that the festival’s refund policy is “unlawful, unconscionable and unenforceable.”

In a statement, the lawyer behind the lawsuit questioned the legality of the decision to cancel the event without offering a refund.

“Reserving the right to change or cancel SXSW without providing a refund violates Texas law and is especially harmful during this very difficult time when so many people are suffering physically and financially,” said Randy Howry of Howry Breen & Herman.

SXSW also provided a statement to KXAN about the lawsuit.

“The pandemic and cancellation of this year’s event caused tremendous loss for the business, staff, the city and its citizens,” a spokesperson said.

“Due to the unique nature of South By Southwest’s business, where we are reliant on one annual event, we incurred extensive amounts of non-recoup-able 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.”

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