SXSW Hit With Lawsuit After Refusing to Issue Refunds for 2020 Festival Cancellation

SXSW Hit With Lawsuit After Refusing to Issue Refunds for 2020 Festival Cancellation

Maria Bromley and Pauta Kleber file class action lawsuit against the Austin festival in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division over ticket refund dispute.

AceShowbiz – SXSW is facing legal trouble for not offering refunds to ticket buyers after its 2020 festival was canceled due to Coronavirus pandemic. The decision led two people, Maria Bromley and Pauta Kleber, to file class action lawsuit against the Austin festival in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division on April 24.

The plaintiffs claimed that they spent over $1,000 each on attending the event that was originally scheduled for March 12-20. In an announcement on March 6, the organizers revealed that ticket and pass holders would not be receiving refunds. However, they would be given free pass to SXSW event in 2021, 2022 or 2023.

Additionally, the ticket holders were also offered a 50% discount based on the amount they spent in 2020 for another one of those three years. The plaintiffs claimed that the offer expires on April 30 despite the notice stating that it “cannot be certain that future festivals will occur.”

The complaint read, “SXSW has, in effect, shifted the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic onto festivalgoers … individuals who in these desperate times may sorely need the money they paid to SXSW for a festival that never occurred.”

Following the suit, an SXSW spokesperson responded in a statement to Billboard, “When Mayor Steve Adler issued an order on March 6, 2020, prohibiting SXSW from holding the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we understood and agreed with his tough call. The pandemic and the cancellation have caused a tremendous loss to our business, our staff, the City, and its citizens. We are still picking up the pieces after spending a year to program what would have been a remarkable event that required significant time, energy, and resources to produce.”

The statement continued, “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,” the statement concluded.

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