Exchanges in Germany running short of some gas coupons
DARMSTADT, Germany — Terrell Cuffee drinks diesel.
The administrative clerk drives from the Kaiserslautern area to Darmstadt every workday — about an hour each way.
So when he was told by the Darmstadt-area shoppette that it had no diesel coupons, he immediately ran over to the post exchange. The staff there said they, too, were out.
The next day, at 3 a.m., he visited a 24-hour shoppette near his home and got the euro-glugging news: There were no diesel coupons anywhere in Germany. Buying diesel at full German price would cost him an additional $20 per day. He bought his new Skoda station wagon to save money.
“I bought this diesel because I decided to keep this job and make the drive,” said Cuffee, who works for Darmstadt’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation offices.
Well, Cuffee and his diesel are not alone. Exchanges in Germany ran out of several varieties of petroleum coupons, notably diesel and the 200-liter bulk denomination of Super Plus gasoline, but new ones should arrive in stores before the weekend.
“They were shipped DHL on the 8th of April, and should be in right now,” said Bob Lawler, retail programs specialist with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Europe. “It could be a couple days before the stores get them out on the shelves again.”
Lawler said the exchanges typically order the coupons in lots every six months. This time, an apparent appetite for coupons meant stores ran out early. He wasn’t sure exactly why.
“It may be they’re trying to keep ahead of the rising prices,” Lawler said.
The exchange warehouse ordered new coupons from the United States on March 8. They shipped April 8.
“The coupons have to be printed,” Lawler said. “They’re not something that’s in stock.”
Some stores may have had coupons that weren’t available in other stores, but the warehouse was dry. Individual stores turned to swapping coupon types among themselves to compensate for shortages of any one kind.
“They were sitting on an out-of-stock situation,” Lawler said.
On April 7, the U.S. Energy Department announced that the average price of regular gasoline rose 2.2 cents per gallon for a domestic price of $1.78. All told, according to the government, that meant a total rise of 30 cents since Jan. 1.
A government release on the phenomenon said that the price climb has had no apparent effect on driving habits. Though prices were higher, more people were driving more miles than during the same period last year because, the release supposed, the economy was better and drivers could better endure the price hit. And drivers may be getting used to prices continually going up.
“This suggests,” the release warns, that “real prices might have to climb significantly before market resistance sets in to stifle gasoline demand.”