Scores of shoppers are complaining about the Army and Air Force Exchange Service's new website,, which launched unofficially in late September.

On the exchange's Facebook page, more than 100 complaints have been posted citing a wide range of problems: credit cards being charged but items not being shipped; inability to place orders; rejection of all forms of payment.

Some customers say they can't get information about orders already placed. Others say many items listed as being out of stock and there are price discrepancies.

A number of customers post that they've been put on hold with customer service for 30 minutes or more without getting their issue resolved. Some have had to reset their passwords frequently.

Any authorized shopper from any branch of service, including active duty, retirees, reservists and their families, can shop on the website.

"I have been trying for over a week to order. It won't let me add ANYTHING into my cart," posted Carla Vargas on Nov. 11. "I have tried on 4 different devices (2 computers, smart phone and Kindle) and it won't do it on any of them. Can't chat online, no one answers the phone at customer services??!!"

"Put up the old web site until you get the new one working," posted Charles Dutton Sr. Nov. 8.

Another service member wrote about his frustration trying to order uniform items. "I wanted to order a ready-to-wear ABU. First, I couldn't order my size of trousers; it just wasn't there at all," posted Don Bugg on Nov. 3.

When Bugg tried to order two occupational badges, he couldn't get confirmation about which badge would be sewn on top, to make sure they'd be in the right order. He had an online chat with customer service, but the representative couldn't answer his questions.

"Does anyone else find it weird that AAFES is telling me they can't give any answers on military clothing?" Bugg wrote. "Aren't they always telling us to buy our uniforms from them and no one else?"

AAFES is actively engaged in trying to fix the problems, spokesman Judd Anstey said. It is working with its third-party call center and e-commerce platform provider to address technical and operational issues, and the call center is hiring dozens of additional customer service agents "to promptly address issues, questions and concerns by telephone and chat," he said.

In the meantime, any additional customer concerns can be emailed to, he said.

AAFES "deeply regrets any aggravation caused by the transition to a new site and call center," Anstey said. "The organization is confident that once implement is complete, [AAFES] will be positioned to offer a superior online and customer service experience for its valued shoppers."

The new website was launched quietly in September with no fanfare as officials sought to identify any issues before scheduling an official launch.

The Navy Exchange Service Command announced Sept. 3 that it had launched its new, upgraded Web store at, making it easier to search and adding more items and brands.

That Navy shopping site has had few complaints — and one was about a link on the AAFES website.

AAFES and Navy Exchange officials chose the same company, Speed Commerce, for its e-commerce platforms. In the case of Navy Exchange, the work involved upgrading and enhancing the platform; AAFES has been involved in a more extensive revamping.

On the AAFES Facebook page, employees have been responding to many of the complaints — with apologies and offers to try and resolve complaints by forwarding them through channels.

cut for sapce: Customers can contact their credit card company to dispute charges, following procedures established by that company, when items have not been received.

Amid the website tumult, AAFES officials are seeking a policy change to expand online exchange shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans. That request is pending with Defense Department officials.

But AAFES may be losing customers. One customer posted: "While I regularly shop local exchanges I had never previously ordered anything from the site. Given this experience, it appears it is likely to be the first and the last time."

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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