SXSW was forced to cancel their March event, but they haven't issued refunds to customers because according to them, they don't have the money.
If an event is canceled due to, let's say, a global pandemic, chances are people are going to want to get their money back. Even if that hasn't been the policy for certain companies, because of the current state of world affairs, many are bending the rules. People are finding that their favorite festivals are on hiatus until governments open up outside once again, but not all concert producers are allowing the public to get a refund on their tickets—including SXSW.
In early March, SXSW shared that because of COVID-19, they were going to have to do the unthinkable and cancel the festival. The news caused thousands of ticketholders to contact the powers that be to get their money back, but according to reports, SXSW officials have refused to turn over the funds. Angry customers decided to band together and according to Billboard, the festival was hit with a class-action lawsuit.
"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," the complaint states. A spokesperson for SXSW issued a statement to Billboard saying that these specific circumstances have made it impossible for them to issue refunds.
"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 SXSW spokesperson said. "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." Other festivals have reportedly been faced with similar lawsuits from customers.