GSMA to offer partial refunds for MWC 2020 cancellation

(Image credit: Future)

The GSMA will offer partial refunds and credit to exhibitors following the cancellation of Mobile World Congress (MWC).

The annual industry showpiece was due to be held last month Barcelona but organisers pulled the plug earlier due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Several companies, including Amazon, Ericsson, Facebook, Intel, LG, Nokia Nvidia and Sony had already announced they would be withdrawing from the event. Nonetheless, the GSMA was adamant that the show would go ahead right up until the formal cancellation on February 13.

MWC 2020 refunds

The GSMA had said it was “impossible” to stage the show but warned exhibitors they will not be liable for any refunds because of the “unprecedented and uninsurable” situation.

This would have been little compensation to companies that had spent significant portions of their marketing budget on MWC had would also have paid for transport, accommodation. Additional resources would have been spent on creating demos and prototypes.

In a bid to ensure there was no backlash, and to guarantee the future of MWC, the GSMA has given “much consideration” to a financial package. It is adamant that the offer is a token of goodwill and is not an admission of liability.

All attendee tickets will be refunded, while clients who spent less than £5,000 have the choice of a full refund or 125 per cent credit that can be used over the next three years. Those who spent in excess of £5,000 will receive half of paid fees up to £150,000 or they can receive 125 per cent credit over the same three-year period.

As a further gesture of goodwill, the GSMA has confirmed prices for MWC 2021 will be the same as 2019. However cash refunds will only be available to companies that did not cancel their attendance before the event was formally scrapped.

“The GSMA values the loyalty and support our members and partners in the mobile ecosystem worldwide. We are grateful to have the full support from our operator Board of Directors and already have formal exhibition support for MWC Barcelona 2021 from NTT DOCOMO, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone”, said John Hoffman, GSMA CEO. “More than ever, our sincere thoughts remain with those affected around the world in these trying times.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.