Germany fuel card rollout finished
January 10, 2009
The rollout of a fuel ration card system in Germany is complete, but German and U.S. military officials won’t finalize an agreement on the system until late April.
By waiting, both sides will have time to observe the card in action now that it is the only means by which American motorists can buy tax-free fuel in the country. Officials are leaving open the possibility for minor changes to the program as they monitor its performance and customer feedback.
The policy had been scheduled for finalization in November, but was pushed back after the Germans acknowledged "it’s really not fair to assess performance of a brand new, never-been-done-before system until the system is working exclusively" without interference from the now-defunct coupon program, said Dave Mattingly, program coordinator for Installation Management Command-Europe.
The German government wants to monitor the system’s performance over a few months, "and if there are further adjustments, we’ll find out," Mattingly said.
While there were some hiccups during the rollout — mostly caused by data entry errors and customer confusion — the Army and Air Force Exchange Service considers the switch a success. The exchange has distributed more than 95,000 of the debit card-like fuel ration cards since the system debuted to the general public in May, completely replacing a decades-old fuel coupon system in seven months.
Already IMCOM has implemented one change, and AAFES plans to make another to make the system more customer friendly.
In December, IMCOM halved the number of short-term fuel ration limit categories, effectively raising allotments for those visiting Germany or renting vehicles in the country for only a brief time. The change sets short-term allotments at 100 liters for one to seven days; 200 liters for eight to 15 days; 300 liters for 16 to 22 days; and 400 liters for 23 to 30 days.
Previously there were eight short-term categories, and fuel allotments increased in 50-liter increments.
AAFES has plans to do away with a policy that requires customers to show identification, ration cards and vehicle registrations prior to pumping fuel.
"Our intent is to eliminate the checks and streamline the entire process, to make it more customer friendly," Lt. Col. David Konop wrote in an e-mail.
Fuel card violations tracked by task forcePunishment of Army and Air Force Exchange Service customers who go over their limit of tax-free fuel is largely being left in the hands of unit chains of command and civilian supervisors, said U.S. Army Europe.
The decision gives military and civilian leaders in Germany the authority to impose a broad range of penalties for customs violations committed under the new fuel ration card system.
In severe cases, violations could be referred to the German government for prosecution, USAREUR said.
U.S. Forces Customs, which is responsible for enforcing rules relating to tax-free fuel sales in Germany, has established a task force to monitor ration violations, which are automatically logged by the new ration control system.
The first two times a customer exceeds his ration, the task force sends him a warning letter, USAREUR said.
Subsequent abuses of the ration system will be referred to the violator’s chain of command or civilian supervisor.