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Army and Air Force Exchange Service gas prices went on a roller coaster ride this year, and customers don’t have to look far to figure out what caused it.

At customers’ request, AAFES started changing its prices every week, as opposed to every month, beginning in February. The move allowed some of the volatility of the U.S. fuel market to spill into the exchange’s fuel prices.

Though prices dropped in the first week of the new policy, they marched upward nearly every week through the end of May, when AAFES prices set record highs for three weeks straight.

At first, customers had mixed feelings about the change as fuel costs swallowed their paychecks.

“Every week when I go into the store, that’s the first thing I look at is gas prices,” Michael Johnson, a civilian worker at the Benjamin Franklin Village post office in Mannheim, Germany, told Stars and Stripes in April. “Every Saturday, they’re going up.”

But overall, since the policy went into effect, AAFES has seen a decrease in customer dissatisfaction for its gas pricing method, Lt. Col. David Konop wrote in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes.

“Because it is more closely aligned to with pricing in the United States customers understand better when the price goes up or drops,” he wrote. “In fact many customers are going to the [Department of Energy] Web site themselves on Tuesday or Wednesday and know in advance what is going to happen to gas prices on Saturday.”

One change that went largely unnoticed was a one penny decrease in the surcharge AAFES adds to the price of fuel sold in the United Kingdom. At the same time, there was a tenth of a cent increase in the surcharge added to prices in Germany.

Until June 9, the exchange added 11.5 cents per gallon in the U.K. Since then, it has added 10.5 cents. It also used to add 16.6 cents per gallon in Germany. Since June 9, it added 16.7 cents per gallon there.

The reason for the changes, Konop wrote, was an annual adjustment to dispensing costs at all Europe locations.

One thing everybody felt was the surge in gas prices in 2007. In Germany, AAFES’ regular gas sold for 26.4 cents more per gallon on average in 2007 than in the previous year — an increase of 9.8 percent.

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