Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If death isn't an act of God, what is?

I confess that I know nothing about SXSW; it's just an acronym to me. Bur there are people that care about it, so I paid attention when Stowe Boyd tweeted the following:

SXSW should be slapped in the face -- -- a family member dies, and they should refund, for crying out loud.

So I followed the link, which led me to a blog called Information Colony, written by Lisa Padilla. The post in question (today, 2:17 pm) states that Padilla purchased a full conference pass for $980, but then learned that the memorial service for a family member conflicts with the conference.

So Padilla called SXSW:

Today I called SXSW to request a refund. I was disappointed to hear that even under these circumstances, SXSW refused to refund the ticket cost. Without so much as an apology or condolence, they told me to try to sell it on eBay.

I have to admit to a smile when I read what Padilla wrote next:

Their site documentation says that only because of an "act of God" will they make a refund, but evidently God didn't take our family member in their eyes.

So I went to the SXSW site (SXSW stands for South by Southwest, by the way; I probably have heard of it before but just didn't make the connection). And I found their refund policy:

Q: I just found out I can't attend for a really good reason. Can I get a refund?

A: All of our materials, both printed and on the web, clearly state in multiple places that SXSW all purchases are non-refundable see refund policy below. If you cannot attend the conference this year, you may transfer your registration to another person only for SXSW 2008.

Please print out the SXSW Registration Transfer Form PDF, and fill out completely. Fax the form to 512/452-4775.

There is a $100 non refundable transfer fee.

And here's the language that Padilla referenced:

PLEASE READ! SXSW, Inc., at its sole discretion, may cancel or refuse registrations/applications/purchases from any individual or company at any time. By clicking on "Purchase Now" button or authorizing payment to SXSW in any form payor agrees to the following SXSW, Inc. policies: 1) payments are not refundable for any reason including, but not limited to, failure to use SXSW credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, and loss of employment 2) discounted prices are based on the date payment is received in the SXSW office 3) unused registrations/applications have no monetary value and cannot be credited to future years or events. 4) conference registrations include a one-year subscription to SXSWorld Magazine valued at $20.

I re-read that a couple of times. And yes, it says that failure to use SXSW credentials due to an act of God is NOT refundable. In other words, if Austin is destroyed in a nuclear explosion, you're not gonna get your money back.

We'll wait and see what SXSW's side of the story is.

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