2020 has been canceled. Work has been canceled (for some of us). Fun has also been canceled as all major events that we spent our hard-earned cash to attend have been canceled. This includes sports, music, and other entertainment. While many organizers are refunding ticket holders, some aren’t.
Is it ethical to not refund tickets? Can you do something about this? Maybe. Here is a guide to some of the major music festival cancellations.
Coachella and Stagecoach
Let’s be honest— the lineup for Coachella was awful this year anyway. But we all know Coachella isn’t about the music as much as the experience anyway. The event has now been postponed to October, when it will be freezing in the desert.
There were initial rumors that Goldenvoice wasn’t going to refund anyone. But on March 13, organizers sent an email to ticket holders offering full refunds. Coachella will also honor the April tickets in October, so if you’re fine with the rescheduled dates, you don’t have to do anything. Not sure? You have until May 1 to decide.
Coachella will honor the April tickets in October.
Organizers are trying to keep the same lineup, but no one really knows what is to come.
Anyone who was planning to attend Ultra in Miami won’t quite have the same luck. It’s been canceled entirely this year. An email sent to ticket holders stated: “ALL tickets purchased will, of course, remain valid and will be honored at either the 2021 or 2022 Ultra Miami event, at your option. You will have 30 days to choose which Ultra Miami event you want to attend. Additionally, we are also working to offer a digital online Ultra experience as soon as possible.”
Ultra is working to offer a digital online experience as soon as possible.
As you can imagine, no one is happy about this. Ohio resident Luke Starner told the Miami Herald, “I also understand that Ultra is a business and they’re not out to do community service, but to argue against the case, if you pay for a service that’s for a specific date and time and it’s changed, the deal should be off. Simple as that.”
South By Southwest (SXSW)
The cancellation of South By Southwest is hitting everyone hard. A third of their employees have been laid off, and the city of Austin is likely to lose around $157 million, according to Variety.
In accordance with their registration policy, SXSW won’t be issuing refunds. However, they are allowing ticket holders to defer to 2021, 2022, or 2023, in addition to offering 50% off the walk-up rate in an alternate year of your choosing between 2021 and 2023.
SXSW won’t be issuing refunds because their insurance doesn’t cover pandemics.
The policy on the website states: “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.”
And part of the reason for this is that SXSW simply doesn’t have the proper insurance to offer such refunds. Co-founder Roland Swenson told the American-Statesman that their insurance doesn’t cover “bacterial infections, communicable diseases, viruses, and pandemics.”
There hasn’t been a pandemic of this scale in our lifetime, so it’s understandable why these festivals weren’t insured for one. And travel and accommodation fees aren’t likely to be refunded either. Could pandemic insurance be the next big thing? Like everything else impacted by this situation, we just don’t know right now.