Many people who had paid for badges to attend SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin, Texas have now learned that they won’t be receiving refunds, just as SXSW had hinted about days earlier. “Refunds” will be in the form of a credit toward a future SXSW, along with an online experience this year. Meanwhile, local residents have started a GoFundMe called South by Southbest to help vendors who have lost money from the cancelation. SXSW, which is attended by hundreds of thousands every year, was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.
SXSW Is Not Offering Refunds, Just Credits & an Online Experience
Many people who had spent thousands on hotels, travel, and wrist badges for SXSW are now finding that they may not be able to get refunds for those expensive badges.
Organizers have said that people who bought badges can use their purchases for a future SXSW event, Statesman reported. On Reddit, one SXSWedu attendee shared an email they had received about options.
The email thanks readers “for being so patient with us as we navigate these uncharted waters.” The email goes on to say that they are exploring options for rescheduling the event and providing a “virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants, starting with SXSW EDU. In addition… 2020 registrants can opt to defer their registration to 2021, 2022, or 2023.”
So it doesn’t appear, at least at this time, that refunds will be given. Instead, online experiences will be provided, some events may be rescheduled, and registrants can defer their registrations as far forward as 2023.
SXSW has a statement on their website saying they don’t issue refunds. “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. SXSW will not issue refunds for Credentials that have been revoked.” It’s possible, of course, that this might change due to extenuating circumstances.
On March 9, SXSW confirmed in emails sent to attendees that it would not be offering refunds, but they could defer their badges for up to three years and participate in later events or online opportunities as they appear.
Attendees have said they were able to cancel their hotels without issue. One attendee said on Reddit that Delta gave them a voucher and waived their cancellation fee, but they had to call to get the waiver and tell them their event was canceled because of the coronavirus.
SXSW has insurance but not for communicable diseases or pandemics, Statesman reported. It has insurance to cover terrorism, property destruction, weather issues, and injuries. But not specifically for pandemics.
Local Austin Residents Are Putting Together a GoFundMe for Vendors & Others
Although many local Austin residents are glad SXSW was canceled, they also want to help vendors and others who are losing a lot of money from the cancelation. They’ve put together a GoFundMe where they will be giving funds to people during the time when SXSW would take place.
You can visit the GoFundMe here, which is called South by Southbest. It’s already raised more than $6,000.
A description for the GoFundMe reads: “Thousands of Austin area service workers and musicians will be hit significantly from canceled events, lost wages and tips. We’ll take the funds raised by this effort to Austin music venues, restaurants, bars and hotels and distribute them to individuals from March 13-22. We will literally be giving the funds out as tips to servers, bartenders, housekeepers, AV professionals, rideshare drivers, etc. For real. To real people. To make a real difference. We’ll film our moments, documenting the dollars we turn around back into the Austin service community, person to person.”
In an update they later wrote: “UPDATE: We hit our original goal of $5000 in less than 24 hours. So, let’s keep going towards $10,000. Remember, we’re giving this ALL away directly in surprise tips and other creative ways to service workers, hospitality staff, bands, and others who are the backbone of SXSW.” &