It sounds like an IT geeks version of a Harry Potter novel and in some respects my tale of woe has similarities to the battles of brave Harry in the face of evil.

I’ve a few articles lined up and after a few days away busy with work I’m releasing this one first as its been in the pending tray for about a week now.

The humble Mouse Mat.  I’ve never bought one.  I’ve been given mats in the past as gifts, I’ve received promo ones at shows, but I’ve never physically gone out and purchased one – I considered them a waste of money.

I’d been using a Bag-puss mouse mat for many years.  No, I’m not a great Bag-puss fan, but it served its purpose.

As time wore on, so did the mat.  Bag-puss had seen better days and when I purchased an optical mouse, I found that good old bag-puss just couldn’t get on with it and my mouse pointer was miss firing (for want of a better word) all over the screen.

Much like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, there’s a little place in Luton which can be missed just as easily by the passer by.  Its a 99p store, where coincidently, everything in it is…..99p.  I’ve a taste for the really hot spicy chilli sauces and this shop just happens to sell some extremely spicy products (see my Twitter feed for more on spicy sauce) so the wife often pops in when I’ve run low.  The sauces would not be sold in mainstream stores due to the fact that they’d probably have a court case on their hands when someone receives 3rd degree chilli burn, but I’ve a cast iron stomach and taste-bud fortitude to match.

Today would be different, I was with the wife so I could look around.  Believe it or not this 99p store had a computer section and when presented with a promise that everything was 99p, what tech minded individual could resist having a look to see exactly what one could purchase for the princely sum of 1p less than a pound?

A USB vacuum cleaner (for keyboards), blank DVD’s (five pack) an ipad/tablet protector were all amongst the things you could buy.  Then I saw the mouse-mat.  Black in colour, built in wrist support, fabric one side with a rubber base.  I was sold.  It also came shrink-wrapped in a sturdy packet, which unbeknown to me at the time would play an important part in this tale.  It felt sturdy, it didn’t feel like 99p and as I parted with my £1, I felt rather smug that I’d bagged a bargain.

The rest of the shopping trip was uneventful and on the way home my bargain mouse-mat sat innocently the boot, biding its time for what it was to unleash later.

In hindsight, I should have suspected something.  For not much more than the price of a can of coke, I’d got a pad.

They say “you get what you pay for” and I would argue that the saying is not entirely true as I received a whole lot more for my money than what I was expecting.

After opening the expertly sealed mouse-pad I was hit with a cacophony of smell.  Not a rising smell as tentacle like fumes rode the air in the PC room, but a full on military charge, and my face, which was inconveniently in the way of its rush to envelope every cubic centimetre of breathable space took it full on, with the experience akin to when Indiana Jones opened the Ark of the Covenant.

Rubber.  Burnt rubber; of the type that you get when the local youth has been spinning car wheels in the supermarket car-park.  It took about 5 minutes for the smell to invade the neighbouring room to which the wife got her olfactory experience and subsequently marched into the room to investigate further.

I can’t believe a producer of any product would think this smell reasonable, so I can only assume that the 99p store had bought them in bulk for them being faulty.

Unperturbed I stuck with the mat and being still alive after a few days, my initial concerns that it was releasing toxic fumes abated.  The smell has finally dwindled too, either that or its destroyed my sense of smell.  I finally got the bargain I was hoping for as the mouse-pad is incredibly well built and durable.

So the moral of this story would be, its not so much you get what you pay for, its more to beware of the extra’s you may get when bagging a bargain.  Oh and if you get a mouse-mat Xmas present from me, its probably best if you put it straight into the bin.