SXSW Festival has announced the controversial decision not to issue ticket refunds despite cancelling the event at the last minute due to health concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.
The event, which has been cancelled for the first time in its 34 year existence, is covered by the “acts of God” clause in its ticket policy. “The City of Austin has cancelled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU,” they confirmed earlier in the week. “SXSW will faithfully follow the City’s directions. We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.”
The news also comes after the festival’s owner confirmed that their insurance does not cover the recent developments. “We have a lot of insurance (terrorism, injury, property destruction, weather),” SXSW co-founder Roland Swenson explained to The Austin Chronicle. “However, bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses and pandemics are not covered.”
With the festival’s financial stability in trouble, the call for refunds has been strictly denied. “SXSW may, in its sole discretion and at any time determined by SXSW,” the policy states. “Cancel, revoke, or refuse from any individual or company the following: Credentials, purchases, and/or hotel reservations made through SXSW. SXSW will not be responsible for any penalty, fee, loss, or expense that might result from such action.
“SXSW does not issue refunds under any circumstances. Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.”
An email later sent to a ticket holder was shared via Reddit and detailed SXSW’s plan to stick to their no refunds policy. “We are still wrapping our heads around the impact of the declaration, and in the meantime, SXSW has to rely on the registration terms you agreed to when you purchased your credential, which acknowledged that SXSW will not issue refunds.”
Despite the disappointment, the festival did offer hope in suggesting that they are exploring opportunities of rescheduling the event. “To provide value to customers who purchased badges we’re exploring options to reschedule the events in 2020 along with some online conference experiences and networking opportunities.”
The ongoing epidemic of coronavirus disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in China. As of March 5th, 2020, more than 119,000 cases have been confirmed, of which 7,100 were classified as serious.
With more than 4,200 people having died from the virus, most of which have come in different provinces of China, coronavirus has now spread to 110 other countries—including mainland Europe, South America and North America.