South by Southwest Conference Ticketgoers File Class Action Lawsuit After No-Refund Cancellation

A group of ticket holders for the 2020 South by Southwest media and film conference are filing a class action lawsuit against the festival’s organizers, citing the conference’s no-refund policy in the light of its cancellation, necessitated by the national Chinese coronavirus epidemic.

South by Southwest, which occurs in Austin, Texas, was cancelled for the first time in 2020 due to the epidemic. Ticket holders were promised that they’d be allowed to use their tickets to attend the event in future years, but some ticket holders signing onto the lawsuit are arguing for a refund, stating that they need the money to pay for vital expenses in light of the recession. Tickets to SXSW are in the neighborhood of $1000, even when purchased early.

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, a law firm representing ticket holders who want a refund for the conference.

SXSW is one of the most popular and highly-sought after conferences to occur annually in the United States, and its cancellation has created a significant economic hazard for the city of Austin, which is accustomed to the inflow of tourism dollars surrounding the event.

The conference organizers are claiming that they don’t have the money to grant refunds.

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,” said a spokesperson. “These expenditures, and the loss of expected revenue, have resulted in a situation where we do not have the money to issue refunds.

Really a sad situation all around, particularly so for the small businesses and service workers reliant on the tourist appeal of SXSW to make a living.