It all began on a dark November evening, when out of nowhere a storm brought the town to a standstill. A bolt of lightening hit Whithorn in the middle of the night and killed 8 cows, several computers, internet hubs and phone lines. No humans were killed as far as we know…

The motherboard on my son’s computer died that night presenting significant problems for our Home education and his gaming. Since then he has made do with an old computer with no sound. I decided to treat him to a new machine for Christmas. After hours of research I chose an Alienware gaming laptop which would offer him powerful gaming experiences (these are very important to him as online gaming is a very important means of socialising for him),  and a portable computer so that as he gets older he can use it in private, as well as a machine to continue his Home education.

I found the model I wanted Alienware M17 R3 and found a listing on ebay. The seller said they had two of the laptops, was registered as a business and had good feedback. They offered a video on youtube showing all the items. In the listing the seller said that they would accept offers so I sent an email through ebay to make an offer with the promise of immediate payment- he accepted and sent me another item number and link to a buy-it-now listing for the item. I paid immediately and awaited the laptop.

In the meantime I told my son about this. This may seem odd to some people – but kids with autism generally don’t like surprises. My son doesn’t like change either so he needs to be prepared in advance. Even though he is going to get a state-of-the-art gaming machine that most 15 year olds would love – he sees it as being very different from a desktop PC so needs to prepare himself for the change. Christmas for children with autism can be a major challenge – especially if parents don’t adapt for their needs. So loads of decorations, flashing lights, chaos, presents and visitors presents a nightmare of sensory overload. Most parent of autistic children that I know have very low key christmases. Just imagine the joy that you may have experienced as a kid on Christmas morning coming down to all the presents… well for an aspie kid this can be too confusing and too overwhelming. Some parents phase present giving, some don’t wrap them…


Every year I used to say to my son – what do you want for christmas – which he just couldn’t answer. Somewhere along the line he realised that if he said a robot every year then it would take the pressure of him. One year he managed to do a small santa list at school (a hugely painful process for him – as decision making is a major challenge). We got the stuff of the list ( which cost a few pounds) and then got lots of extra bits… On christmas day he opened a couple of the unrequested presents first and then got really upset because he thought santa had got the wrong child.

It’s a delicate line but we’ve learned by now how to handle christmas. It may seem extravagant buying him such an expensive item for christmas but he never asks for anything and doesn’t get pocket money so I feel he deserves a treat.

So my son has been waiting for the new laptop. We followed the stages. Got an email saying it had been dispatched. Got an email with a Royal Mail tracking number…. We expected it to arrive early this week.

Yesterday (Monday) we recieved a recorded delivery item. Tim signed for it and I opened it – just a standard envelope – inside was a blank sheet of paper. When I checked the tracking number it matched the number for the laptop. I just felt so sick as I realised that this is a scam, and we are not going to receive the laptop. I was surprised to find the seller still on ebay so sent a message asking for clarification. This is the response I got:

” no this is xmas greeting to all customer. Your item is send via parcelforce will be with you maximum tomarrow”

Meanwhile Tim was checking Google for ebay scams… So how many sellers would send a christmas greeting by recorded delivery….

I asked for confirmation that the tracking number was not related to the actual laptop but of course he didn’t reply. (hoping for evidence). I submitted a claim to paypal for a refund. It is pending but I got an email today saying he had responded to them and they were investigating it. What I find most upsetting is the sheer cheek of him – actually responding – it seems really obvious that this is a scam but I am not convinced I will get my money back.

Part of me really still hopes I will get the laptop – but the sensible side of me knows I wont… My son has taken it quite well considering… He is concerned that I am upset. I quickly ordered another laptop for him and am hoping it comes quickly. I can’t afford it – our new downsized lifestyle was stretched already. If I don’t get the money back then we will be very short. But a computer is vital to my son’s daily life.

But it feels odd moaning about this when we are lucky enough to be able to afford it in the first place. We have a home and we’ll be having nice food over the holiday. We have some new computer games and will be playing together alot over the next two weeks. I will update on progress of the claim and if not resolved I will name and shame the b****rd (not that they care) – … Of course kneecapping is always another option; ) How very unseasonal of me to even think such a thing…