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View Full Version : AAFES time to go...



AF2017
09-03-2013, 12:44 PM
Has the Air Force Times done a story on AAFES, in specific on how it continues to NOT meet the needs of the troops? Especially overseas?

I haven't dealt with AAFES in 8+ plus years, since I was stationed at places that didn't have them. I recently PCS'd overseas and things haven't changed a bit. If not gotten worse.

In the few weeks I've been here, these are things I've seen and experienced:

Football season starting for kids, BX doesn't have cleats available.

School started this past Monday, yet KMCC the largest AAFES overseas, doesn't have school clothes in stock/for sale? All the stateside retailers have had them available since July.

They advertise clothes/items for sale but when asked they no longer have them in stock

Nail polish remover hasn't been in stock for the past 6+ months. (Via spouse network)

Their price match advertising is mis-leading, borderline illegal. They price match there own (AAFES.com) website. Nobody else. They say they'll price match the local area but that's almost silly since things in Europe are more expensive.

Their you pay NO SALES TAX is also mis-leading and not completly true. I priced matched a TV at Best Buy but AAFES, would only match the price at Best Buy with sales tax. In an indirect way, I was still paying the sales tax.

Their price aren't competitive. Most of the items they sell aren't even close to the retail market.

Why do we continue to put up with this second rate service? Don't we as troops, deserve better?

I would really like to see a cover story on AAFES, put our foot on there neck and see if we can get things fixed!

Stalwart
09-03-2013, 01:45 PM
I mostly concur with you, AAFES (NEX and MCX to but on a smaller scale since they are not as big) is broken.

There was a pretty long thread on this a while ago. JoeB and I had a good back and forth about the issue.

http://forums.militarytimes.com/showthread.php?1595984-Closing-Commissaries&highlight=aafes

BOSS302
09-03-2013, 02:13 PM
I think AAFES' inventory ordering process involves a dartboard with items replacing the numbers, and they blindfold a random employee and tell them to throw at the board. Wherever the dart lands, that is what they order.

I recently put an order request in for a piece of exercise equipment that they did not have in stock at Mildenhall BXtra but they had in their Feltwell warehouse. I asked, "Well can I pay here and go collect at Feltwell using my own vehicle?"

"No."

".......Ok. Well I will do the request."

They said it would process and the equipment would be brought over as early as the next day for me to pay and pick-up. They said they would call me when it was in. After a generous wait time of three days, I contacted the BXtra.

"Yes I am checking up on my request to see if it came in." Words. Blah Blah.

"Sir, that equipment did come in but it was sold."

So what the fuck did I go through all that for? Pathetic.

I also ordered a bedroom set six weeks ago and still nothing yet. I know someone might say, "Just shop on the economy, stupid." Furniture in the UK is insanely expensive. My bedroom set through AAFES is $2.5k; a comparable one on the UK market is about £2,300.

wxjumper
09-03-2013, 03:25 PM
Actually, I think Overseas is the only logical location for AFFES to exist. Otherwise, the only way to get American products is online. Also, good luck shopping somewhere in Germany on Sunday or after 6pm any other day. When I was in Germany, I exclusively shopped at AFFES, the commissary, and Powerzone was a life saver. Back in the states, I barely touch those places. I go to Walmart for food, Best Buy or online (unlike overseas, where it takes 2-3 weeks to get it overseas if they even ship to APOs at all) for electronics. They should just close down stateside, and with some of those savings improve the overseas stores.

Class5Kayaker
09-03-2013, 03:32 PM
Their price match advertising is mis-leading, borderline illegal. They price match there own (AAFES.com) website. Nobody else. They say they'll price match the local area but that's almost silly since things in Europe are more expensive.

Their you pay NO SALES TAX is also mis-leading and not completly true. I priced matched a TV at Best Buy but AAFES, would only match the price at Best Buy with sales tax. In an indirect way, I was still paying the sales tax.


I agree with your comments, except you contradict yourself with the two I've quoted above. You state they won't price match others, then you cite a time where they price-matched Best Buy (albeit the tax thing is ef'd up IMO).

My biggest issue with their price matching is they only do it on specific model numbers (down to the exact letter). Well, AAFES either sells out-dated electronics that the big-box stores no longer carry because they're so old (so there's nothing to price match since the other competitors no longer carry it), or they have an "AAFES only" model of new electronics so then they claim it's not the same and they don't have to price match.

OtisRNeedleman
09-03-2013, 06:52 PM
Yeah, had some real "fun" at the Ft Ord Exchange last week. Needed to buy a laptop and Office 365 to go with it. Exchange running a sale on HP laptops. However, this exchange didn't have any HP laptop we wanted in stock, unless we wanted the display model. No Office 365 in stock whatsoever. The salesperson offered to order the laptop for us from a different base. I declined. The last time we did a special order at this exchange we ultimately had to get the AAFES commander involved. So we ordered a different laptop and the software from the Exchange web site. One nice thing...day or two after ordering the laptop, a Toshiba, the Exchange was giving $75 discounts on Toshiba laptops. Called AAFES catalog sales and they took the $75 off. Hopefully the stuff will get here on a timely basis.

Class5Kayaker
09-03-2013, 09:20 PM
When CONUS, I just avoid AAFES for major electronics purchases except for the occasional X-Box or Wii game that goes on sale for the kids (they actually have some great deals when it comes to that sometimes).

Pullinteeth
09-04-2013, 06:04 PM
Fuck the Exchange as a whole (though I do like the NEX & MCEX more than AAFES). They sell shit, and the good stuff they DO sell is expensive as hell. I buy smokes, booze, and clearance items at the Exchange and that is about it. Online is a bit better because you get everything that any exchange would have but even that sucks-I bought something from them and when it arrived it wasn't what I ordered. Their reply? The picture on the website was wrong... WTF does that have to do with anything?

grimreaper
09-05-2013, 06:35 AM
I mostly concur with you, AAFES (NEX and MCX to but on a smaller scale since they are not as big) is broken.

There was a pretty long thread on this a while ago. JoeB and I had a good back and forth about the issue.

http://forums.militarytimes.com/showthread.php?1595984-Closing-Commissaries&highlight=aafes


The NEX is much better than AAFES Exchanges though. The NEX has recently changed their price match policy to where they will match online retailers like Amazon, Sears, Best Buy, ToysRus and a few others. So, I decided to email AAFES and asked if the AAFES exchanges would be doing the same. After I received about a 300 word reply about how they offer goods at the best prices with no tax blah, blah, blah...the answer in the end was no. AAFES sucks.

Stalwart
09-05-2013, 10:55 AM
Yes, I think the NEX is better than AAFES but I still don't really shop there.

Mostly I sum it up into:

1. Bad customer service -- purposely the top of my list for this discussion.
2. Not a significant savings (yes, some things are cheaper and no tax on big buys like a TV will get me to consider it.)
3. A lot of what they sell is not the 'basic' things I am looking for when on base (usually when TAD), but I can buy a Rolex, Waterford crystal or designer clothing.

Silverback
09-05-2013, 01:15 PM
Actually, I think Overseas is the only logical location for AFFES to exist. Otherwise, the only way to get American products is online. Also, good luck shopping somewhere in Germany on Sunday or after 6pm any other day. When I was in Germany, I exclusively shopped at AFFES, the commissary, and Powerzone was a life saver. Back in the states, I barely touch those places. I go to Walmart for food, Best Buy or online (unlike overseas, where it takes 2-3 weeks to get it overseas if they even ship to APOs at all) for electronics. They should just close down stateside, and with some of those savings improve the overseas stores.

I agree. I found AFFES useful overseas. Not CONUS. While I was stationed in Europe a lot of online stores would not deliver to an APO address. I never understood the legal reasons behind this. So, I did shop at AAFES as well as the local economy. I realize that AFFES is not perfect but I do feel that they are most useful overseas where your options are limited.

Chief_KO
09-05-2013, 01:16 PM
Not sure why NEX is better than AAFES, but they are. AAFES ordering process and customer service is lacking. As more and more Airmen live off base there is a decreasing need for shopping on base (slippery slope). AAFES requires vendors to open their "books" to help determine sale prices (one big reason many name brands are not at AAFES)...I would think NEX does the same, but maybe not. With all the consolidation and streamlining talks and action, merging the exchanges into a single system is over due IMO.

20+Years
09-05-2013, 01:33 PM
Nail polish remover hasn't been in stock for the past 6+ months. (Via spouse network)

Sure.... :cheer2 sucks when they don't have your favorite color in stock, huh?

Ok, seriously, Turkey was the same way. The items every new person to the base needs, cable wires, phone cords, nope. Out of stock for weeks. I had better luck at the thrift store on base.

sandsjames
09-05-2013, 01:34 PM
I think AAFES' inventory ordering process involves a dartboard with items replacing the numbers, and they blindfold a random employee and tell them to throw at the board. Wherever the dart lands, that is what they order.

I recently put an order request in for a piece of exercise equipment that they did not have in stock at Mildenhall BXtra but they had in their Feltwell warehouse. I asked, "Well can I pay here and go collect at Feltwell using my own vehicle?"

"No."

".......Ok. Well I will do the request."

They said it would process and the equipment would be brought over as early as the next day for me to pay and pick-up. They said they would call me when it was in. After a generous wait time of three days, I contacted the BXtra.

"Yes I am checking up on my request to see if it came in." Words. Blah Blah.

"Sir, that equipment did come in but it was sold."

So what the fuck did I go through all that for? Pathetic.

I also ordered a bedroom set six weeks ago and still nothing yet. I know someone might say, "Just shop on the economy, stupid." Furniture in the UK is insanely expensive. My bedroom set through AAFES is $2.5k; a comparable one on the UK market is about £2,300.

They are horrible there. We ordered a new mattress from Feltwell. They said to give it 6 weeks before calling to check on it. I called after 3 weeks to ask about it. The said "I'm sorry sir, we tried to contact you when it came in but there was no answer so we sold it to someone else".

wxjumper
09-05-2013, 01:46 PM
Yes, I think the NEX is better than AAFES but I still don't really shop there.

Mostly I sum it up into:

1. Bad customer service -- purposely the top of my list for this discussion.
2. Not a significant savings (yes, some things are cheaper and no tax on big buys like a TV will get me to consider it.)
3. A lot of what they sell is not the 'basic' things I am looking for when on base (usually when TAD), but I can buy a Rolex, Waterford crystal or designer clothing.
Because the people who work there are mostly military spouses who feel entitled to work there and know they can't be fired.

CYBERFX1024
09-05-2013, 05:49 PM
I never really dealt with AAFES stateside because I was a Marine and I dealt with the MCX and actually worked for them as well for 2 years at a gas station in Laurel Bay SC. The only reason that we had the business we did was because the closest store was a 4 mile ride down the road. So people were to lazy to get their gas, cigarettes, milk, and alcohol there at the one off base. So the gas was more expensive by at least 5 cents a gallon, but the other three items were comparable in price.
I got lucky that I did not work at the main store and deal with that mess. But I did have to deal with the drunk people on the weekend and the people that would get mad because they didn't have any money but wanted cigarettes. So they would bring a pocket full of change to buy that as many packs as they can.

My big pet peeve with AAFES came to a head while I was on KAF. They would open the px/bx a hour early on payday with special deals for US service members and not let contractors go in until they regularly open. But the sale was only for that 1 hour. Then another big thing for people was the line for Western Union. It would be completely filled up by indian/filipino contractors on payday and have to wait a good 2 hours in line to send money. But then they created a separate time that the US service member gets head of line privileges, then they made it all day. So someone like me waiting 2 hours in line can get have a someone not even in uniform get ahead of me just because they are military. So that flips my switch. Because I made at least 4 times as much per payday as the military but I am a second class citizen.

71Fish
09-05-2013, 06:40 PM
Because the people who work there are mostly military spouses who feel entitled to work there and know they can't be fired.

That's true. There is no real incentive for them to provide even sub-par service.

sandsjames
09-05-2013, 07:14 PM
Get prices at Wal-Mart...take it to BX, they match the price and charge no tax.

Here, the gas station is the cheapest around (apparently some off base charges the same, but it is way out of the way)...and the booze is cheaper at the Class VI than anywhere I've seen off-base by a long shot.

I think they are required to be within a certain amount of the local area on gas prices and, yes, most places I've been it's cheaper. However, the booze thing is definitely region based. In California both Walgreens and Walmart were cheaper than the base. The problem with price matching (especially with electronics) is it has to be, as someone mentioned, the exact same item. So, for movies, all the BX carries are the BluRay/Digital/DVD copy, usually for at least $24. Off base the price is the same for a similar disk. However, off base I can find the single disk copies, which the BX doesn't offer and, of course, amazon is so much cheaper in that area. Same goes for clothes. They will price match, but they only carry the expensive brands, so there's no way to get a price match on the normal, affordable, items I would buy.

sandsjames
09-05-2013, 07:25 PM
I'm in California :-) Honestly, I don't think I checked the booze at Wal-Mart...I checked them at Albertson's, Von's the local Liquor Emporium.



Yeah...that's true. I bought an ipod and price matched it with Wal-Mart. At first, AAFES was not going to price match because the local Wal-Mart did not have the same color in stock. I went to the store manager and she reluctantly agreed to the price match, but stated it's not their policy to do so.

I guess it just depends on what you're buying, just as with any store.

wxjumper
09-05-2013, 08:05 PM
Get prices at Wal-Mart...take it to BX, they match the price and charge no tax.

Here, the gas station is the cheapest around (apparently some off base charges the same, but it is way out of the way)...and the booze is cheaper at the Class VI than anywhere I've seen off-base by a long shot.
And if you have the Military Star Card, you get 5 cents off per gallon which is a great deal.

Juggs
09-05-2013, 08:17 PM
And if you have the Military Star Card, you get 5 cents off per gallon which is a great deal.

Especially with okaloosa county adding 5 cent tax at the pump starting in January

grimreaper
09-06-2013, 12:33 AM
And if you have the Military Star Card, you get 5 cents off per gallon which is a great deal.

A great deal? Are you being serious? You have to buy 20 gallons to save a dollar. At $3.50 a gallon, that means you're spending $70 bucks to save a dollar and if you don't pay the card off every month, you're going to be paying more in finance charges than you would actually be saving.

My small car usually takes around 10 gal (plus or minus a gal) when I fill it. Where I live, gas is $4.12 a gallon. That means I'm spending over $40 bucks to fill up. The 5 cents off a gal saves a whopping .50 cents. Not my definition of a great deal.

wxjumper
09-06-2013, 03:55 AM
A great deal? Are you being serious? You have to buy 20 gallons to save a dollar. At $3.50 a gallon, that means you're spending $70 bucks to save a dollar and if you don't pay the card off every month, you're going to be paying more in finance charges than you would actually be saving.

My small car usually takes around 10 gal (plus or minus a gal) when I fill it. Where I live, gas is $4.12 a gallon. That means I'm spending over $40 bucks to fill up. The 5 cents off a gal saves a whopping .50 cents. Not my definition of a great deal.
Sure, I am serious. Amounts to $50 a year to an average user, more to those who drive trucks. Combined with the fact that in most places, AFFES gas is cheaper, you have even more of a delta between getting your gas on base then off. As with any Credit Card program, whether it be Airline miles or cash back, value is lost when you don't pay it off at the end of the month. You only get value if you pay it off, or you were going to have to charge any way.

I never pay cash for anything anymore. Everything is by Credit Card so I can get cash back/miles/etc. But I pay them off each month.

FLAPS, USAF (ret)
09-06-2013, 03:58 AM
Sure, I am serious. Amounts to $50 a year to an average user, more to those who drive trucks. Combined with the fact that in most places, AFFES gas is cheaper, you have even more of a delta between getting your gas on base then off. As with any Credit Card program, whether it be Airline miles or cash back, value is lost when you don't pay it off at the end of the month. You only get value if you pay it off, or you were going to have to charge any way.

I never pay cash for anything anymore. Everything is by Credit Card so I can get cash back/miles/etc. But I pay them off each month.

I use my Amazon Prime visa for everything, even my rent. I pay it in full each month and end up with about $50 each month in credit. That's free money to do more amazon shopping!

grimreaper
09-06-2013, 04:12 AM
Sure, I am serious. Amounts to $50 a year to an average user, more to those who drive trucks. Combined with the fact that in most places, AFFES gas is cheaper, you have even more of a delta between getting your gas on base then off. As with any Credit Card program, whether it be Airline miles or cash back, value is lost when you don't pay it off at the end of the month. You only get value if you pay it off, or you were going to have to charge any way.

I never pay cash for anything anymore. Everything is by Credit Card so I can get cash back/miles/etc. But I pay them off each month.

$50 bucks a year? Even if I gassed up each and every single week of the year without fail, that comes out to $26 dollars in savings. To reach $50, someone would have to put 20 gallons in their tank each and every week of the year without fail. 20 gallons times 52 weeks is 1040 gallons of gas and calling the price of gas $3.50 a gallon that means you had to spend $3640 dollars to save $50 bucks. Pretty much every single credit card rewards program I have has a better deal than that. And it's not true that AAFES gas is cheaper. It is not allowed to be cheaper by law. AAFES can not sell gas lower than the lowest posted price of gas in that area. While it might be cheaper than some gas stations, whatever gas is priced at on base, you will typically find others off base with the exact same price because those are the rules. In fact, I've been at two bases where gas at a local gas station usually averaged a couple cents cheaper than the base.

I do the same as you as far as charging everything to collect the reward points/miles, but I quickly learned that the AAFES "save 5 cents a gallon" deal looks good at first, but it's not so great when you do the math.

Chief_KO
09-06-2013, 04:20 AM
At one time gas was cheaper...till the gas retailer lobby got to Congress to pass the law that forced bases to be within so much of the local stations. Happened about 20 years ago if memory serves...

Pullinteeth
09-06-2013, 05:38 PM
Yeah...that's true. I bought an ipod and price matched it with Wal-Mart. At first, AAFES was not going to price match because the local Wal-Mart did not have the same color in stock. I went to the store manager and she reluctantly agreed to the price match, but stated it's not their policy to do so.

HA! You got lucky then because the BX here doesn't even have IPods most of the time-just the display and they don't sell those.


Sure, I am serious. Amounts to $50 a year to an average user, more to those who drive trucks. Combined with the fact that in most places, AFFES gas is cheaper, you have even more of a delta between getting your gas on base then off. As with any Credit Card program, whether it be Airline miles or cash back, value is lost when you don't pay it off at the end of the month. You only get value if you pay it off, or you were going to have to charge any way.

I never pay cash for anything anymore. Everything is by Credit Card so I can get cash back/miles/etc. But I pay them off each month.

:bsflag:

If you drive right off base? MAYBE. If you have one of those GPS thingies that finds gas prices nearby or have been at a location for more than a few days? Almost never. I drive up two exits and the gas it anywhere from $.05-.25 cheaper.