Fact Check

Hardware Store Stocks Up on Rope and Duct Tape for 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Release

Rumor: Hardware stores in the UK are stocking up on rope for the release of the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' movie.

Published Feb 13, 2015

Claim:   The UK hardware store B&Q warned its staff about a surge in rope, duct tape, and tie down sales before the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie.


Example:   [Collected via Twitter, February 2015]


Origins:   In early February 2015, reports started circulating online that the hardware store B&Q had sent out a memo to its employees warning about a surge of rope, duct tape, and tie down sales ahead of the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey film.

The supposedly leaked memo, which urged B&Q staff members to familiarize themselves with E.L. James' popular erotic novel in order to be prepared to answer customer questions, was picked up by several publications such as the Guardian and the London Times:

As the UK's leading DIY store we stock many of the products featured in this notable scene and then used later in the film. When the book was released in 2012 DIY and hardware stores in the UK and US reported increased demand of certain products and queries from customers as they tried to recreate their own Fifty Shades experiences. We need to be prepared for the same effect when the film is released this month.

But it turns out that this memo was not "leaked" to the press; instead, it was gleefully and deliberately issued by B&Q's public relations team as a press release. A spokesman for the company said the "leaked memo" aspect of the release was simply a joke:

We can confirm that the leaked memo was indeed a bit of fun. Both B&Q, the public and the media have been entertained over the past few days and we are looking forward to a big weekend. We would have confessed to this sooner, but our hands were tied.

B&Q is not worried about selling out of rope this weekend, and they are not urging their employees to read Fifty Shades of Grey. The company did, however, publish a blog post on 11 February 2015 explaining how to properly use zip ties, duct tape, and rope:

Hi Everyone, Pete here! Seems to be an upsurge in people attempting DIY this weekend but using the same group of products... Duct Tape, rope, tie backs, electrical tape. Odd. Anyway, heres a bit of advice.

Duct Tape. Has a very strong adhesive, be careful it doesnt come into contact with hair and be aware of any allergic reaction on contact with skin.

Cable Ties. Remember that once these are tightened, they will not come undone and will need to be cut. Please use suitable safety scissors to cut these.

Rope. We have rope in different colours and sizes and I would recommend using a pair of Rigger gloves to avoid any rope burns.

Electrical Tape. A great product to use around the ends of your rope to stop it from fraying.

Stay safe this weekend folks and try and keep the mess to a minimum by using the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. Hard Hat, Safety Glasses & Dust Mask. A tidy work area is a safe one.

Last updated:   13 February 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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