Response Categories
Q.I work with two retired MOD Veterans who eat at JB's regularly and pay the same price as civilians.
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Why can veterans not get the same benefits as serving personnel considering the amount of veterans who are employed within BFG who are still dedicated to the services, I think it would be a nice gesture and a small sign of gratitude to their service.
A.

We are governed by central Catering, Retail and Leisure Management policy which set out clear and specific rules for entitled and non-entitled personnel. These state that the only people that pay discounted or 'entitled' rates are Serving Personnel or UKBCs on detached duty away from their duty station.

Therefore, although I agree this would be a nice gesture, there is no scope within the rules for BFG to take this forward.

Q.I would like to ask why the German no claims is not recognised by the UK insurance industry?
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It seems unfair that soldiers and their families are penalised for being posted in Germany, especially if they have been here a long time. I understand that the Relocation Move monies are supposed to help with these kinds of costs and it's personal choice when it comes to insurance but it only goes so far. Surely this kind of prejudcie is against the Armed Forces Covanant? - Susie Asimba
A.

Not all German insurance companies use a no-claims system for calculating premiums in the way that we are familiar with in the UK.  As a result, UK insurers are sometimes reluctant to give a no-claims discount based a period of insurance cover with a German insurer. The choice of insurance company is down to an individual’s own personal preference; however, it is possible to find UK-based companies that will insure a BFG registered vehicle and maintain an individual’s no-claims history.

Q.Could I please ask why the post office offers no cash facility on the Saturdays?
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it now opens on Saturday and I would like to be able to put some of my German wage into my English account but due to my work hours (I finish at 3pm and only have half hour lunch which is not enough to time to travel from Normandy barracks to the post office and back) I am unable to get to the post office during their opening times mon-fri. - Name and Address Supplied
A.

The Saturday opening of Forces Post Office 16 is a 4 month trial providing a mail only service as has been widely advertised. We are unable to provide cash services on a Saturday and there is no plan to do so in the future.

Q.Can some one please explain the disparity in prices/post services when sending post from the UK to BFG and from BFG back to the UK?
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Posting from BFG back to the UK, I can use either first or second class postal services, however posting from the UK to BFG I can only use first class postage. This is clearly exemplified on the Royal Mail website and seems totally incongruous, as well as unfair for our families in the UK who are not allowed to post items to us in BFG via a second class post. - Name and Address Supplied
A.

The current Forces Mail Settlement agreement with Royal Mail is based on an outbound 1st class service only as it was not deemed viable for Royal Mail to offer a 2nd class service from the UK.

1st and 2nd class services are available from Forces Post Offices in Germany however, although all post is dispatched simultaneously, when it reaches the UK, the items are separated and moved by Royal Mail using the requisite service.

Although 2nd class from the UK is not available due to the BFPO contract with the Royal Mail, the cost of sending a standard letter by 1st class post using a BFPO address is still considerably cheaper than sending it to a Germany address (the cheapest equivalent Royal Mail service to Europe is £1.57) or using any other comparable courier service.

Q.On posting back to the UK, why do we not have the option to pay our UK road tax by direct debit, as offered to U.K. residents?
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Surely this is against the spirit of the Military Covenant? – Name and Address Supplied
A.

I have looked into this but regretfully we are unable to offer this service in Germany. 

Q.On the theme of quick wins to small inconveniences raised during the quarterly brief, would it be possible to have a facility on Rochdale Bks to issue MwSt forms to personnel based there?
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Admin staff working for an existing Rochdale Bks organisation could be used to act as a satellite office to the main facilities office. Removing the inconvenience of travelling to Catterick Bks would benefit personnel/organisations of the camp as less work time would be lost by performing this function locally. - Name and Address Supplied.
A.

As you may be aware, following customer feedback, we have recently reviewed the MwSt system, and have amended the process so that individuals can now obtain forms from any MwSt office in the Garrison. 

Adding a satellite office at Rochdale Bks (and other BFG locations) would result in an increase to the administration costs and regretfully, there are insufficient funds from the revenue generated from this service to be able to facilitate this.

Q.Is it possible to introduce more flexibility and review COLA rates to coincide with the changes in FFR (as LOA) instead of being set in stone at twice a year?
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This would enable COLA to fulfil the task it was designed for as stated in the relevant policy document.
010316 reduced COLA rates introduced, 010416 FFR reduced resulting in -€150 purchasing power. 5 months until next review means a min of €750 net pay less (example is my circumstance). This will affect all UKBC’s, irrespective of grade. – Name and Address Supplied.
A.

COLA is managed across the Civil Service by an external company – Employment Conditions Abroad (ECA), consequently it would not be appropriate for a small element of the Ministry of Defence, such as British Forces Germany, to seek to implement different arrangements.

A mechanism already exists to allow COLA rates to be reviewed and updated between the biannual reviews, should a large and sustained change in the exchange rates occur.  You will have noted the substantial increase in COLA payments which were implemented on 1st September; this is, in part, as a consequence of the recent exchange rate fluctuations.

Q.How is it that the NAAFI continue to advertise prices in GBP when it is impossible to ever pay that price at the till?
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For instance, I went to the NAAFI today and saw a packet of crisps advertised for sale at £1 (using a conversion rate of 1.29), on taking this item to the till and attempting to pay by debit card the GBP price was £1.14, so they are falsely advertising in GBP. Why they are allowed to advertise in pounds now is beyond me when ultimately we have to pay in euros! – James Wilkes
A.

Having engaged with NAAFI, they have confirmed that following customer feedback, including yours, all prices are now displayed in Euros throughout NAAFI stores in Germany, converted from Sterling at the current Forces Fixed Rate.

The ability to pay in sterling using a UK credit card in Germany is not a free service and many card providers apply both a conversion rate and processing fee for foreign transactions.  NAAFI incur bank charges when processing UK card payments and therefore convert payments to Sterling using the Sterling Conversion Rate (SCR), to offset these additional costs.  The SCR is clearly displayed at the point of payment and is updated weekly using market exchange rates.  Payments made on these cards are then classed as Sterling transactions and customers are not charged any additional fees by card providers.  Customers who do not wish to have payments processed using the SCR can pay by German debit card, which is free, or cash, so there are a variety of payment methods available to customers. 

Q.Why is there not a consistent use of practices and pricing across BFG JB’s?
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Over the past number of months, I have had various issues with the way the JB's restaurants I have used have been run. Firstly, there appears to be a lack of consistency with the running of each restaurant, in as much as each manager or staff member appears to have their own way of interpreting and implementing the regulations and policies. Where one establishment might allow you to do or have one thing, another might not. A good example here is when I used the JB's in Normandy, where, on finding no suitable protein selection, I decided to get myself chips with baked beans and was charged approx €2 for the meal. A few days later at the JB's in Catterick I got the same meal only to be informed that I would have to pay €4.25 as the policy there was that everyone is charged for a full meal regardless of how much of it they had, due to the policy allowing individual items no longer being used. - Name and Address Supplied
A.

JB’s restaurants follow a common menu cycle with standard pricing on the items displayed on the printed menus.  These prices are all set up on the tills and are no different from one JB’s to another.

Where items are combined from the hotplate that do not have a stated price on the printed menu, NAAFI allow the local Executive Chef to apply a sensible price based on the product on the plate. Because there are potentially many different combinations it is impossible to cover every one of them with an individual price and to keep the till process simple, not every item is set up with its own price on the till.

NAAFI offer this as a service rather than refusing to sell the products selected by the customer.

Your choice of ‘chips and baked beans’ is not a priced menu item and therefore defaults to the discretionary pricing.

NAAFI will look at the possibility of adding some of the more common items onto the tills in order to avoid this situation in the future.

Q.The current Mehrwertsteuer (MWSt) form system is limiting for families that do not reside within the station that their head of household (HoH) works in. With BFG now coming under one garrison, Westfalen Garrison, it could be expected that an entitled member of BFG could access a MWSt form from any of the BFG offices but I found last week that this was not the case. Why can we not access the Tax-free shopping system anywhere within Westfalen Garrison?
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- Georgia Ramsay
A.

Thank you for your question about the limitations regarding the issue of Mwst forms. I have reviewed the current system and while there is more work to be done to make the process simpler, I can confirm that from 25 July, you will be able to obtain Mwst forms from each Mwst office in the Garrison.

Our agreement with the Federal Ministry of Finance (FMOF) is that each household is limited to 5 forms in issue at any one time.  The Mwst office in the location where the Head of Household has registered keeps a record of forms in issue.  When obtaining a form from another location, the Mwst office will need to confirm the individual has not exceeded their allocation.

While the system is cumbersome at present, it does offer the flexibility you were seeking and we will continue to explore ways in which this can be improved.