Case 10: The Football Match

Bent Nielsen, export manager of his Danish company, is in Britain for an important meeting with his new customer, Reginald Tipton-Jones, owner of Exclusive Imports Ltd. Three months ago Tipton-Jones bought a large shipment of his firm’s excellent product and sent it to gourmet shops all over the UK. Now he wants to talk to Nielsen about a possible long-term contract, saying “First, let’s see how we get on together here, shall we?”

Tipton-Jones brings Nielsen to his large country estate outside London on Sunday morning, chatting in a warm and friendly way. From his plush leather seat in the Rolls Royce, Bent sees stables, tennis courts and people playing croquet in front of the old manor house. In the house are numerous old and new cricket and tennis trophies.

Over a glass of excellent single malt scotch Tipton-Jones asks the visiting Dane, “Well, what would you like to do this afternoon? You are my guest here.”

Bent replies, “Well, if it’s all right I would like to attend today’s football match with you. It’s my favorite team, you know. Would that be convenient?”

After a brief hesitation his British host replies coolly that he will be pleased to arrange for the tickets. But when Bent steps into the Rolls a little later Tipton-Jones confides, “So sorry, old chap, I just got an unexpected call from Hong Kong, have a bit of an emergency to attend to while you’re at the match. I will drop you off there and pick you up. You enjoy – I will see you later.”

Driving Nielsen to the airport that evening Tipton-Jones talks about many things but makes no mention of a long-term contract, or even about when and where they are to meet the next week at the Cologne Food Show. Bent wonders if perhaps something went wrong that day…


From your knowledge of British culture, please explain to Bent why Reginald Tipton-Jones seemed to suddenly lose interest in having a long-term business relationship with him.