SXSW Refuses to Offer Refunds Despite Event Cancellation

Hilton Lobby, Austin, TX, a typically busy thoroughfare during SXSW (photo: Derek Key CC 2.0)
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Hilton Lobby, Austin, TX, a typically busy thoroughfare during SXSW (photo: Derek Key CC 2.0)
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The Hilton Austin lobby, a typically busy thoroughfare during SXSW (photo: Derek Key CC 2.0)

The SXSW 2020 saga has taken yet another unfortunate turn, as a recent letter to the mega festival’s badge holders made clear that they won’t be receiving refunds for their passes.

Instead, those who paid to attend the 10-day-long Austin event will be able to “defer” their registrations to any of the next three years’ SXSW editions. Significantly, SXSW CEO Roland Swenson recently indicated that SXSW 2021’s fate is uncertain, owing to the immense financial fallout of this year’s cancellation.

While the no-refund policy may be reversed if enough fans voice their opposition, SXSW’s website rather explicitly states that the company “does not issue refunds under any circumstances.” Per this fine print, payments to SXSW “are not refundable for any reason,” including acts of God, duplicate purchases, travel issues, or even “acts of terrorism.”

On Twitter, would-be SXSW attendees are voicing their frustration with the no-refund stance. One user posted an image of the full message sent by South-by, emphasizing that refunds won’t be provided, and another user speculated that there are “very tough times ahead for the [concert and music festival] promoters and those hoping for refunds.”

Many other festivals and concerts have been cancelled due to coronavirus (COVID-19) fears, and notably, SXSW passholders aren’t the only ones who’re being denied refunds.

Today, Ultra Miami organizers deemed their cancellation a “postponement” and informed ticketholders that they’ll have 30 days to transfer their passes to the 2021 or 2022 festival — but refused to grant refunds.

COVID-19 has been generally well-contained in America, but its global impact is growing. Italy’s government officials reported 168 more coronavirus deaths overnight, and earlier this week, the country’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, instituted a mandatory lockdown, which will prohibit city-to-city movement until April 3rd.

The economic fallout from SXSW’s cancellation is continuing to affect Austin’s business owners, artists, and residents. A fundraiser has been started to aid those who were relying on SXSW income, for instance, and something of an impromptu marketplace has been created to swap excess food and beverage stockpiles.

At the time of this piece’s writing, SXSW hadn’t responded to fan protests and complaints pertaining to the no-refund stipulation.

18 Responses

  1. Angelito


    I guess the mob will regret panicking over a common cold now.

    • Trish

      A doctor you are not. Continued idiot comments from you.

    • Bruce Cesby

      With the highest health organizations stating that this is a big problem that will only get bigger, and events, schools, towns and countries virtually shutting down, why would you continue to assume this is a common cold? Are you trying to suggest that everyone is in cahoots over this? Don’t you think there could be some truth to the problem with so many losing so much? Your rationale just doesn’t add up.

      • Angelito

        Overreaction. Where were you dumdums when influenza killed 12k last year? That’s right—packed into small spaces watching music.

        PT Barnum is right. You suckers are buying into the mass hysteria. Cobgrtaulations!

        • Bruce

          12k? Wow, that’s a lot. Out of how many cases? How quickly did it spread? Oh yeah, that’s the big difference between the two and why this one is a more dangerous. Do just a little research before you post ignorantly.

          • Angelito

            Read it and weep, sheeple:

            “So far, the death rate in China from the coronavirus has been about 2 percent. Italy has the second-highest number of deaths, a little over 350 people. As of March 9, there have been 19 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. and most were in the state of Washington.

            However, to keep this in perspective, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there were approximately 34,000 deaths in the U.S. from influenza in the 2018-2019 flu season.”

            Good lord, slap yourself and get a grip. You are wetting your knickers over a slight threat.

  2. In The Know

    Hey Angelito, just can it! We are all smarter than you are.
    Oh, why don’t you apologize to the families that have lost their loved ones to this epidemic why you are at it??

    • Angelito

      Run for you life already! Panic and go with the herd!

      Worked in a hospital micro lab for 20+ years, compadre. I have seen mucho bad bugs, and this one is of no concern for the healthy.

      I have never seen such mass hysteria. Now I understand how Hitler gained power.

      • a

        hey Angelito, anyone who uses the word “sheeple” shows how stupid and arrogant they are. you’re pretending to be smarter than other people because you have nothing and are a loser

  3. Nicky Knight

    Be careful using trains, buses, Trams.

    I’ve stopped 90% of my usual public transport use as they’re dangerous for the you know what.. too many people breathing and coughing on each other in an enclosed capsule with poor air quality.
    I’d like to stop 100% public transport if possible while this thing is on.

  4. Tom Tom

    and of course many people in this site are over 50, the older you are the more at risk of developing respiratory complications..

    • Angelito

      Average age of person dying from CV in the US: 80.

      • Trish

        The information you post is incorrect, but regardless of that, what is your point? That it’s not so bad because only older people are dying? Your previous comments about this only being a cold and that the flu killed more people are wrong and misleading, in that order. This virus has killed more people than the flu over the same time period. Using the weighted stat of the flu killing 12000 people in the last year doesn’t compare to the 4500 that this virus has killed in a couple months. Get your head out, really. Do you need the attention that bad?

        • Angelito

          Wrong. The chance of a healthy person dying from this virus is nill. My stats are correct.

          Panic if you want; I just made a boatload of cash buying airline and airline-related stocks that are tanking because of your mass hysteria. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Trish

            You’re an idiot and a liar. There’s no mass hysteria, as you put it. And, no, you didn’t make a bundle on any stock, especially airlines. Now, get out of your mom’s basement and go get some sun. You need it.

  5. Angelito

    You are right, still down a bit on Delta, but I could already take profits on American and United> But, I will wait until you hysterical fools calm down and business returns to normal and will take a healthy profit. Boeing at $166 this morning is a steal!

    Stats are right, probably a bit low. Some say 80,000 died from flu in 2018-2019 worldwide. Yet you goofballs are buying toilet paper by the truckload because 12 have died in the US.