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An Open Letter to AAFES Overseas

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): An Open Letter to AAFES Overseas

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Open Letter to AAFES Overseas

If I knew that someone at AAFES was going to read AND act on this letter, this is what I would write.

"Dear AAFES,

I have just come from my local PX in Belgium.  I live 30 minutes from the PX and do not travel there too often, but this is the fifth time in a month I have gone to the PX looking for simple paper to put in my computer printer.  This is the same HP printer that I used to try to buy ink for at the PX until I realized it would probably be weeks before I saw replacement ink for it.  Those shelves were routinely empty as well.  Back to the paper...keep in mind that the PX is the only local source of computer paper, as the local Belgian source only sells European-sized paper, which is about an inch or so longer than US computer paper.  This would create an extra step for me in using Belgian paper, as it would hang out of my binders either on the top or bottom, forcing me to cut that part off (I do like to be neat).

I see that your shelves were totally empty of ALL computer paper, the first four times I visited your facility.  The fifth time, there was a small ream of high quality thick HP paper, which costs almost twice what regular paper costs.  Since I had truly run out of paper at this point, I was forced to buy it or deal with the consequences of my children going on a homework strike.  I should've ordered it from the US you say?  Do you know how much paper weighs?  I guess this is also an option if I don't mind shelling out more money.

The truth is, I believe the PX should be overseas to support us....not make our lives more difficult or more expensive than shopping off-post on the economy or even through mail order.  I don't know who your overseas PX buyer is, but they apparently have not grasped that there are certain STAPLES that EVERYONE goes through in high volumes, printer paper being one of them....printer ink being another.  I won't even go into the other items that are routinely needed, as these are also items AAFES should be tracking for low quantities and should be ordering well ahead so the shelves are stocked.

If Walmart HQ can tell themselves how many bottles of water they have on the shelves of X stores right before Hurricane Katrina (and after I may add), then the PX should be able to handle the basic technology that would keep their stores stocked of staples.  If the stocker person who does the ordering has no clue what staples we need, what about a suggestion box in the front of every overseas PX, allowing customers to let AAFES know which staples they'd like to see on a regular basis?  It seems the commissary does a better job of this.  Maybe the PX guy can talk to the commissary guy and share notes.

A Disgruntled AAFES Customer"

I for one would love to hear what AAFES has to say about this issue? I know having AAFES overseas is a privilege and not a right....I got that...but still.....your thoughts on this?

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Blogger Bette said...

I ended up with that thick, expensive HP paper for the same reason. And don't even get me started on the flashlight bulb I've been trying to buy for weeks. Why they taunt me with the bin tag showing where it should be, I don't know.

I try not to gripe about the PX and commissary too much, because I consider them privileges, not necessities. But if you're going to have a service and continually tell me how great that service is, then maybe consider backing up the claim. If the PX spent more time thinking about what a carless PFC's wife needs for her family and less space stocking designer purses and high-end makeup, then it would be better serving its intended purpose.

Sorry for getting wound up. I guess you hit a nerve. :-)

November 30, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Amen! I agree too that AAFES is a privilege, but they could be making life SO much easier for us, and at a lower cost for them if they had the necessities. I don't need or even want that high end stuff, and if I could....I'd look elsewhere anywhere! We are in the land of designer purses over, aren't we?!

November 30, 2010 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous susanna said...

I am currently not overseas, but I can see how frustrating this gets for you all. Especially, if you might be able to find seemly unimportant items like coach handbags...well, don't want to start on my gripe. Gee, basics such as paper should be available, don't you think?

November 30, 2010 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger edith said...

I want to know who the buyer is for the GAWD AWFUL women's clothing they sell in our PX here in
Belgium. It is rare indeed when I even see someone browsing amongst those sparkly polyester and rayon garments BLECH! - I wouldn't dress my worst enemy in those clothes!

November 30, 2010 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger tavasemissions said...

Ahhhh I could add to this list in so many ways...

While in Korea, the pX ran out of infant formula. The commissary did not carry off-brands so we were forced to purchase name brand formula or buy Korean formula (which we opted to do). For MONTHS the formula shelf went empty, but I assure you there was always plenty of booze and tobacco products. It's a revenue thing. Stock it where they make the most $$$. I do my best not to patronize AAFES in the US as I feel they take advantage of military families--ESPECIALLY overseas!

November 30, 2010 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Edith, it must be the same buyer for the PXes in Germany....same tired old lady stuff too.

Infant formula....that sounds dangerous being out of stock, as you don't know the standards on the economy I would think....gee....

November 30, 2010 at 5:46 PM  
Blogger The Collins Family said...

Piggybacking on the formula comment, our PX in Germany also ran out of formula for a time. I could not find it at either the PX or the Shoppette. I ended up having to purchase Enfamil, which was more than twice the price of the AAFES brand formula.
Our PX, and the 3 closest ones to us, were also out of printer paper for almost 3 months. We happened to drive to Ramstein one weekend (which was 3 hours away from us) and they had paper, so we stocked up! I did find it odd, though, that Ramstein PX had all of the items that our PX had been out of for a while. I understand that Ramstein PX is the largest PX in Europe, but why is it that AAFES could get items to them, but not to other AAFES locations in Germany?

November 30, 2010 at 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there! I'm part of the AAFES social media team and we'd love to help! Can you send details and your contact info to Thanks! Jessica

December 1, 2010 at 4:00 AM  

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