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Hurdles remain for new AAFES gas card in Germany

By MARK ABRAMSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 3, 2008

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service is still ironing some of the kinks of its transition to a new prepaid gas card with less than a month to go before fuel-ration coupons expire.

The coupons will be honored on bases around Germany even after the expiration dates until the transition to the new gas cards is completed, but at this point, people will not be able to use the coupons off base as of Oct. 1, AAFES spokesman Lt. Col. David Konop said. The transition to the cards started in July and is expected to be completed by Dec. 15.

Konop said AAFES is still talking to Esso about off-base usage of expired coupons. "We understand that is an issue between now and December, and we are definitely working on the off-base issue," he said.

The coupons allow users to fill up at U.S. prices by avoiding the costly German taxes. About 95 percent of the coupon users are limited to 400 liters of gasoline, or 105.7 gallons, a month, but the rationed amount depends on what kind of vehicle a person drives, Konop said.

Coupon holders can get reimbursed for coupons up to a year after they expire, Konop said. And people can request the cards early if needed, he said.

"One way or the other, we are not going to have customers out there who will not be able to get the fuel they need," Konop said.

The German government asked AAFES to phase out the coupons, which have incurred problems such as unauthorized use and users stockpiling the coupons to exceed their ration.

The first cards had some glitches, such as fuel being pumped in early July being counted towards a user’s June ration.

"It’s a much easier system because it takes away the opportunity of someone stealing your ration coupons," Konop said of the cards. "If you lose your gas card, like a credit card, you report it and go into an AAFES and get another gas card issued to you."

For more information about the fuel ration cards, go to http://www.imcom-europe.army.mil/sites/news/fuelcard.asp.