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A credit card number will be needed to hold the reservation, but will not be charged unless you do not show up or cancel in advance of the tour. (https://gocity.com/san-antonio/en-us/attractions/texas-hill-country-lbj-ranch-tour)

The bold part is confusing. Does it mean:

There are two instances where the card will be charged, which are:

  1. when you do not show up on the day of the tour
  2. when you do not cancel in advance of the tour
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A credit card number will be needed to hold the reservation, but will not be charged unless you do not show up or cancel in advance of the tour.

This makes perfect sense to me.

"..unless you do not show up or cancel in advance" is a case statement which becomes true if:

  • you do not show up, or
  • you do not cancel in advance.

The meaning of the entire statement is:

  1. You must provide credit card details to make a reservation, but you will not be charged at that point. You will presumably be charged later when you meet that reservation.

  2. The credit card will be charged if you either a) do not show up (so you simply do not arrive for the tour and never contacted them to tell them you would not be there), or b) fail to cancel in advance (for example, if you contacted them on the day of the tour to cancel that is not advance notice).

Presumably, if you did attend as intended you may be able to offer an alternative means of payment (ie a different card) which is why they can rightly say your card used for the reservation will only be charged in the circumstances above. Of course, you could use the same card for final payment.

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  • Your bulleted part reads: They will not charge you if you either do not show up or you do not cancel. Obviously, they will charge you if you do not cancel.
    – Jan
    May 20 '19 at 9:30
  • @Jan No, if you do not cancel in advance. If you cancel in advance then presumably you will not be charged. Not cancelling at all is covered in "not showing up".
    – Astralbee
    May 20 '19 at 9:59
  • Your bulleted part is not clear, because you didn't use it in the complete sentence. Would you mind to edit that?
    – Jan
    May 20 '19 at 10:01
  • @Jan the point of the bulleted part is to break it down, not quote verbatim. I'm trying to show that the "not" applies to "not showing up" and "not cancelling in advance". What part of the sentence do you think I have omitted?
    – Astralbee
    May 20 '19 at 10:03
  • It seems we read the original sentence differently. You read it as "unless you do not show up or do not cancel". I read it as "unless you do not show up or cancel." So, to me, "do not" applies only to "show up" but not to "cancel." Your second bullet reads to me: "We will not charge you if you do not cancel." I was just thinking, you can really clarify this, if you introduce the bulleted part with the actual preceding part of the sentence.
    – Jan
    May 20 '19 at 10:13
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Actually, it is the opposite. The card will be charged:

  1. if you show up, because you have to pay the fee anyway;
  2. if you cancel - you will probably pay a cancellation fee.

Now there is a question left: what will happen if you do not show up, but you do not explicitly cancel wither? Maybe this will count as a cancellation too, but the sentence does not clarify.


As @Jan stated in another answer, the triple negation is a total mess and should normally be avoided at all costs. If the situation is real, you are better off sending an email ans asking for a clarification of the statement.

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This is really confusing because it's kind of triple negative 1) not be charged, 2) unless, 3) do not show up.

The two negatives (will not be charged + unless) make a positive: will be charged. So, your interpretation seems to be right: The card will be charged if you do not show up or if you do not cancel in advance.

If we take that their sentence is correct, it means you will be charged up despite not showing up. Like they say, it's not our business if you show up or not; we will charge you in any case, because you signed in and you didn't cancel. I think, this is realistically possible, because they usually charge you (or not) in the office, not at the place where you show up.

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