- Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Friends Remembered
Survey Question

DX Cluster Spots

Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement

[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE

Chris (WO8USA) on March 14, 2014
View comments about this article!

I have had a hunch but not kept statistics on my successful hardcopy QSL rates. In late 2013 I did a random experiment and kept records by callsign of QSL rates for DX stations in two categories: US-based managers and DX station instructions (DX based manager or direct). All QSLs were for DX QSOs, following exactly the instructions on the QRZ web site and confirmed during the QSO. I count myself as a fairly experienced QSLer.

For the most part, US managers only required a US SASE. For the most part, DX stations required SAE and $2 or $3. None of the DX QSLs where for "mega" operations where high volume may have been expected, and all listed themselves as "direct QSL".

I kept records of return rates by manager type. US-based managers where highly reliable. About 90% of QSLs tracked to US managers were confirmed within 1 month (about 75% within 2 weeks). At the 1 month point, only about 15% of the DX-sent QSLs were confirmed, and at 2 months the rate was about 20%.

I continue to love QSLing the semi-old-fashion way (electronic look up is beyond the hardcopy callbook or even exchange of addresses during the QSO). I participate but do not get the same thrill from eQSL and LoTW but it is something at least. The data from this random experiment gives me great confidence in the reliability of US QSL managers and the service they perform. I will keep my list and continue to update the DX rate (or look for them to come back via the buro in a year or so). I understand the cost of QSLing but now understand the efficiency of it a little which may drive my future investment in it.

I've purposely not mentioned managers or callsigns here as this was a random experiment.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by W1JKA on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good topic, as yourself I am also interested in hard copy (card) QSLing statistics. My approach is a little different,over a 5 year period and to date I have exact percentages of returns, 68% DX, 81% U.S.

I don't require a stamp/sase for response and never send stamp/sase to contacts as I am not interested in awards, if I get a return that's great,if not that's OK too.

I never use the Buro or eQSL so can't comment on your post specifically.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by KB2DHG on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
One of the things I like most in this hobby is collecting hard copy QSL's. I send 100% and don't require SASE... And if I get a return I am happy, if not well, it is what it is... For the most part though I get returnes...
What I like is when I get a visitor to the shack (non HAM) is the thrill they get to see all my QSL cards from all over the world. It gives them a visual of what we as HAM's do...
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K4PIH on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I send them and hope I get them back. If not that's ok I have plenty.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by AI2IA on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
At last we have a good, informative article on

I have a huge collection of QSL cards in photo albums. It inspired one son to get his ham license at age 12. It is popular now with my very young grandchildren and they like it as a sort of story book when I sit down, show them the cards, and tell them stores about them. They ask a lot of questions. It has turned out to be yet one more wonderful advantage of amateur radio. If you have children or grandchildren try being a QSL card story teller.

I always respond to a QSL request, sase or no sase. I enjoy sending paper cards out without a request, but because of the cost, I only send them to hams I think might really be happy getting them. I use eQSL mainly to respond to those folks who use it, but I agree, the thrill is not so much there.

I believe that cost has really impacted QSL sending, especially from DX stations. They seldom request them anymore. U.S. and Canada are the best sources now.

So enjoy the paper cards. Show them to the young and old alike. They inspire some to go further and at least make others think about the activities of ham radio.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by KC9UNL on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you enjoy old QSL Cards be sure to visit

ALSO if you want to preserve your QSL history, consider donating unwanted QSL Cards to Bob Green, W8JYZ.

This is a fabulous web site and I am sure you will enjoy visiting the site.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by W2WO on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If I really want a DX QSL, I send an SAE and green stamps (or IRCs, but their day is somewhat past). My returns have been fairly good -- estimated above 85% -- but the time involved can be much longer than a month. I have had some SAEs (sent with green stamps) returned (with QSL card) after more than a year.

Bureau returns have been perhaps 60%, but time is often measured in multiple years.

I do not QSL "trivial" contacts (RST 599 WX GOOD 73), and do not expect QSLs for such contacts unless the location is especially interesting.

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
W2WO's experience is about right.

I have had about a 92 per cent return rate (over my whole "career") from all direct QSLs. I never broke out US versus non-US managers, though.

My buro rate is about 50 per cent. It is probably less now than it used to be.

A lot of stations, especially in Europe, just don't participate in the buro anymore. Most are at least kind enough to say "direct only" on; the rest either do participate or, two years later, you realize you have problem.

If you're serious about awards, especially DXCC Challenge, the actual return rate is a real issue and a problem to be solved.

For a while, I stopped sending buro cards because of the dismal return rate.

I've decided to cheap out a bit and try the "buro" again with the "not so rare" DX or for band fills for even fairly rare DX.

However, these are basically for QSOs that I have reasonable confidence I can get a second time if I need to (and thus get a buro or an LOTW from one of the two).

In a couple of years, I guess that means when the sunspots are low and 10 and 12 meters are firmly closed, I'll have to take a good look at what doesn't come back and QSL them direct, belatedly. The return rate on that is never quite as good as doing it "fresh", but it's also for a fairly small minority, or so I hope, based on past experience.

I have a nice QSL collection I suppose, but if you are remotely interested in DXCC Challenge, the quantities kind of remove the romance of collecting and you begin to just want to get the darn things and get on with it, with perhaps a few exceptions.

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by F8WBD on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
We may have arrived at a time when QSLing might be predicated on operating interest. For example, 2x QRP contacts, special event stations, rare DX (of course). That sort of thing.

Plain cards are no great expense, but postal rates certainly are.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by KQ0J on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting. The biggest scams for QSL's these days are the ones that expect $3-5 via Paypal and then QSL via LoTW - which costs them nothing - what a cottage industry some of those guys have dreamed up!

If DX has a US QSL manager I feel comfortable sending. If they have a European - well you have a 90% chance of getting a card in your lifetime. If they want direct to a 3rd world country with $$ then dont count on ever getting a card - you may and you may not.

I just wish that overseas Ops would be honest and if they do not QSL just say so and don't steal our time and money.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N4KC on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Card collecting! Yet another great aspect of our hobby!

I use LoTW but still love it when the envelope from the bureau shows up with a bunch of cards. I have a bulletin board full of colorful and interesting ones that visitors to the shack inevitably ask about. And I admit I like looking at them, too. I just need a bigger bulletin board.

By the way, regardless of whether you are an active card collector or not, if you work DX at all it is a good idea to keep SASEs on file with the bureau for your call area. Those folks do a wonderful and dedicated job sorting and stuffing envelopes. Make it easier for them by keeping envelopes with updated postage there.

You may also get QSLs from DX stations working toward WAS, county awards, and more. The courteous thing to do is to respond with your own card.

By the way, you can get a box full of color cards printed by Vista Print or GotPrint surprisingly cheap. You just have to design the card or have someone do it for you.


Don N4KC
(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by G3RZP on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Back in the 1960s, a much used QSL Manager was W2CTN. Any time the DX said 'QSL W2CTN', you KNEW you would get a bureau card within 6 months.

To my mind, he was the tops that any QSL manager should attempt to emulate....

50 years on, forgotten like so many good guys....
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N8YQX on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
In similar pursuit, I've also been looking at how long it takes for the card to get from the DX country to my mailbox. Basically, I look at the date on the cancellation stamp to determine when the DX dropped the card in the mail.

It appears that NA and EU has relatively fast mail service, where it only takes few days for the transit. On the other hand, cards from SA appear to take much longer, with some cards taking over a month via airmail (I assume that's what "priority" means). I don't have enough data on AF, AS, or OC to come to a conclusion at this point.

Anyway, my point is, assuming it takes same time to get my card to the DX, the round trip could easily take 2-months just for transit, and expecting a reply in that time window may be unrealistic. After all, there's a reason why they call it "snail mail"...
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N6AJR on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Please remember to send either a couple of envelopes and stamps or some $ for same to your "guy" for your call sign at the buro.

Mine puts it on the outside of the envelope when he sends a packet of cards he writes 3 envelopes and $2.40 in stamps left. So then I send more when getting low.

It works and is fun even if you don't collect them. Folks still send them to you via buro, so have an envelope waiting, please.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>>> but postal rates certainly are.

Yes, indeed. That's the issue. Although it isn't as bad as I had thought, the "real" cost of postage is going up.

More to the point, it is going up faster outside of the US than elsewhere. The postal authorities world-wide, facing lower volumes, like to jack up prices on those who don't vote for them or their masters. So, international rates are and have been vulnerable to higher prices than might otherwise happen.

There will be a day, in the not terribly distant future, when we'll have to pay someone from some particular country 5 dollars to get that card.

Already, a lot of the Spanish speaking world (not sure why they are "leading" on this) are basically requiring us to send 3 green stamps plus (for US hams) a buck to mail the card.

So, OQRS, eQSL, LOTW, all are going to be more important. I'm already at the point where collecting is a very selective thing.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>> By the way, regardless of whether you are an active card collector or not, if you work DX at all it is a good idea to keep SASEs on file with the bureau for your call area.

Whether you chase DX or just want particular cards, this is a simple necessity.

A lot of DX ops will decide, for all kinds of reasons, that you didn't do the SASE plus green stamps right and send you the return card via the buro. They may tell you; they may not.

But, the buro is your "backstop" that ensures you get more of even your "direct" QSLs.

And, the extra odd buck to your sorter is simply good sense. Those are real heros if not in terms of lives risked, in terms of time spent for little recognition.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K1PJR on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I just changed my method last week. I now use mailers and return envelopes supplied by Bill Plum. He also sells return postage stamps for the corresponding country. In many cases the postage is less than $2. Now the DX op has a SASE and just has to put his card in the 4x6 return envelope. Mailed nine requests on Monday so I'm curious to see if they arrive quicker.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
It will be interesting to see how the Plum method works these days.

He's had a nice little business for many years (some just buy his envelopes).

But, a lot of DX go out of their way to say "no postage" and even "no IRCs". Green stamps seem to be the "currency" of choice here.

Maybe they just see to much US postage from the ignorant. But, they also have to cover the cost of their buro mailings (if they do that; some do, some don't) and the "courtesy" of the QSL seems to wear thin after you've done 10,000 of them as many even pretty common DX say they have.

Buro cards aren't free to mail, even in bulk.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WB0HZL on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I too like receiving "hard" QSL cards. I always try to respond in kind. Sending and receiving cards via the Buro is the least expensive way to QSL but it is time intensive, always has been. I have always had great return rates with QSL Managers worldwide, but again it takes time - usually not as much as with the Bureau System though.

I currently live outside the United States, in the Philippines, and the cost of sending a letter to the US is surprising and slow. It costs approximately $3 to send a letter or a QSL card in an envelope and it generally takes about 3 weeks to receive the letter - both ways. Express mail is faster, about 10 days, but costs considerable more.

Now for another eyeopener - to send any package here in the Philippines, you must go the the Post Office and actually package the items in front of a Postal Inspector - this includes QSL cards to the local Outgoing Buro.

I can always be sent a QSL via my US address, but I only have my mail forwarded on a quarterly basis. I then prepare the QSL Cards and send them back to the US to my mail service provider and they send them out from there.

Having lived in several foreign countries - QSL Buros throughout the world are not necessarily as well run as the US Buros. Just my 2 cents or 1 pesos worth.

Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by W6AAJ on March 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
In November, following the published instructions, I sent $ to the W6 bureau. I've been highly radio active since I retired in early 2013. I have yet to receive any mailings from the bureau.


I'm just trying to get a feel for how long I need to be patient. I'm starting to think 12 months based on other comments in this forum.

Any thoughts?
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by F4GFT on March 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

I'd say you should be more patient. I received my first bunch of cards 15 months after my first QSO, and the average turnaround time for bureau cards according to my statistics is about 2 years. I still receive cards for contacts made in 2011. You should not worry, your first envelope should arrive this year.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N8TI on March 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The oldqslcard website is great and shows that people certainly took the art is QSLing seriously.

I certainly enjoyed getting the envelopes back from the Buro back when I was interested in DXing in the 90"a. Back then, I don't think I was stiffed when I sent money to a DX station, but they would often respond via the Buro regardless of whether you paid for a direct response.

It would be good if someone cod post a list of the DX stations that solicit money and don't follow through.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by W4WNT on March 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
For those who do use the QSL bureaus, please keep your e-mail current in When your cards pile up, this is the easiest way to let you know that you have cards.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by VE6TL on March 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There appears to be a darker side to the QSL business, as I've come across a number of operators who are only too willing to take you money and never send a card. When you compare notes with other DXers, you realize this is more common than you originally wanted to believe. The other day I worked a guy who, as it turns out, only takes PayPal if you want a card. While I can sympathize with the cost of cards and postage, this does seem a bit over the top. When does a hobby stop being a hobby and start becoming a business? Perhaps there should be an online database where problematic callsigns can be listed. Might save a lot of us a lot of cash, and maybe even shame the offending parties into delivering the cards.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>> There appears to be a darker side to the QSL business, as I've come across a number of operators who are only too willing to take you money and never send a card.

This is much rarer than commonly believed.

When I have looked into this (and it usually takes more than simply casting about websites like this one) in at least 90 per cent of the cases, it turns out the real problem is that there is some _postal official_ with sticky fingers.

In one case, I got around this problem by putting "VIA FRANCE" on the envelope as others had learned. All that probably happened is the card was processed, one sorting station to the left, by an honest worker. In another case, I decided to resort to registered mail. The ham in question, who had a terrible reputation, actually _figured out my ARRL email address and emailed me_ so I could supply some key missing detail and actually get the card.

Yep, I'd sprung for registered mail and had failed to fill in the card correctly.

In both of these cases, I got the card back reasonably promptly. Once the DX _actually got it_.

Before you trash someone's reputation in this manner, be very sure who is really to blame.

There really isn't a fortune to be made from QSL card green stamps. If postal theft happens, the word gets out and the cards pretty much stop. The ham's rep is trashed, often unfairly, but the cards _stop_.

If you are the DX, this is pretty easy to figure out. But, if you're a postal official, who is paid dismally in some places in the world, you don't appear to get this or maybe you don't care if you poison the well as long as you get some money for a little while. It's not _your_ reputation on the line.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO8USA on March 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yes, my experiment was direct only following posted instructions, i.e. active QSLers. I make no claims on buro efficiencies.

With statistics you cite, you may want to examine them by time. My perception only is that years ago my rates (following QSL instructions or courtesies--SAE +$green stamps) was higher. I believe economics and pace of life can be considerable pressures to get a "sent direct and return via buro". I have not counted these which would require continuous meticulous watch and tracking.

I love QSLing and would hate future generations to see a QSL as synonymous with LoTW, eQSL, or QRZ, ClubLog, a previous post said, that exotic card from a country that may not even exist anymore (remember East Germany and Rhodesia) can inspire. Perhaps we should somehow instill a "QSL rating" much like Amazon rates its sellers; peer pressure can be great!
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I love my own little QSL card collection, but I think "rating" cards would be counter-productive.

Some would rise to the bait. The rest would be suddenly LOTW only.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K4YZ on March 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Personally, I have found that "Direct to DX with $2.00" is a pot-shot, at best, except for certain managers. There are several EA guys whom I never worry about getting a card from. I've had some turn around times as little as 14 days from Spain.

I personally don't require an SASE for a return card, but send one when I send a card out unless the other guy also says "No SASE required".

One of my most infuriating QSL chases was a fellow in Kansas. I was desperately in need of a card from KS for both 40 and 30, and had worked this fellow on both. His site assures "100% QSL." I explained my desperate need for his card as KS and 3-or-4 other states were all I needed to wrap up two WAS attempts.

After waiting 2 months for a reply card, I sent a second request with a note that allowed the KS fellow to "save face", and I did receive a note from him begging patience while he caught up on other cards. He could have filled out a card just as easily, but I am sure he had his reasons...As I was to find out...

Another two months went by, and no QSL card, despite SASE's on both occasions.

Finally, a contest rolled around, and I got a fellow on 40CW who popped over to 30 for a quick RST, and then went back to his contest. A QSL followed within a week. This guy was a gentleman by any definition. I hope I can return the favor for him.

My original contact? Never heard from him directly again, but he's been published twice in QST since then, even making the cover both times. Guess I know what all that "catching up" was about...Collecting a check for his writing.

Wonder if I'll ever get those cards...?!?! If he reads this, I guess he knows I don't need him anymore. I just hope he'll delete that "I QSL 100% from his bio. If he's not going to QSL, he should just say so. I could have sent the cards to someone who cared.


Steve Robeson, K4YZ
Winchester, TN
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WY4J on March 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Did all my qsling in the 70's. Now I get to rag chew and enjoy the hobby. For many hams DX contacts are just a source of income, and you suckers send them your hard earned money so they can buy equipment and go on vacation. And for what? a stupid piece of paper...gimme me a break. If anyone sends me their card I will reciprocate but I will never send or paypal another ham my money for a stupid piece of paper that you cannot even use to wipe your but...73 suckers.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N4KC on March 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Thank you for your wonderfully positive and inspiring opinions on our hobby and life in general.

I suppose some might think your interest in Detroit muscle cars and skeet shooting is stupid and that you are a sucker for pursuing such money-wasting hobbies. Not I. Enjoy to the fullest whatever you enjoy so long as it does not infringe on my enjoying whatever I enjoy.

Again, I decry...DECRY...the whole attitude of "If you don't like what I like then what you like is crap." If I want to send a guy five bucks for a card, that's my decision, even if I can't even use it to "wipe my but (sic)."

I'd have a hard time replacing my Charmin with a carburetor for a '67 Pontiac GTO, too, (which must cost far more than a QSL card from a rare country) but if that is your thing...


Don N4KC
(Author of the new book RIDING THE SHORTWAVES:
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WY4J on March 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Life is too short to get our blood pressure up over trivial matters. Make sure you check it often and don't forget those pills. Hate to read about another SK old geezer that had a stroke or heart attack over their hobby...73 :)

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K1PJR on March 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Ditto on N4KC. QSL'ing is very inexpensive compared to some hobbies. Auto restoration for example. If you like golf it could cost you anywhere from $50 to $150 in my neck of the woods. That's one round, about 5 hours. $150 buys a lot of postage and envelopes.

Ham radio is supposed to be fun and it is for me. Are there bozo's on the air? Sure but I just move on. The vast majority of ops are nice and very cordial.

BTW, as I mentioned above I sent out 9 QSL's via the Bill Plum method. A week later I received two cards back: Luxembourg and Finland. That's a first for me. That's quick! Now let's see about the remaining 7.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO7R on March 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>>> Personally, I have found that "Direct to DX with $2.00" is a pot-shot, at best, except for certain managers.

Have you measured your results? Have you compared those with other DXers?

It's easy to get our panties out of shape based on even a few misses. I have my share, but I don't let it bother me. Instead, I measure and try and figure out how to improve.

Heck, I know that in _two cases_ the ham in question went SK on me. Hard to get a card from those!

It's all about the batting average. If you aren't getting 90 per cent or better from your direct QSLs and half from the buro, you need to study exactly what is going wrong on your end (the one you can control) because it is easy to find hams with the 90 for direct, 50 for buro success rates. You'll never get 100, but you should get 90 or more.

It means:

1) reading the QRZ.COM bio every time, and carefully. Sometimes, for the rarer ones, _before_ working the station. Many have instructions that border on the ridiculous. But, if you follow them, you tend to get the card.

2) It means designing the card less for beauty and more for legibility. Think of a Russian or Japanese ham whose native alphabet (never mind the language) isn't the one you are looking at right now! It means large and legible fonts. It means including things on the card that might not matter to you but might matter for them. It means being sure to use standard dimensions on your card (3.5 by 5.5 inches) but allow for larger sizes _coming back_ from the DX ("A6" Euopean size, about 4 1/2 by 6 1/4 is common enough). That affects your return envelope.

3) It means if they say "direct only", then the buro is futile. If they say "I require PayPal" or "I no longer accept IRCs", paying attention to that. A few even say "IRCs, no cash please". So, figure out how to meet them halfway. A lot of DX don't even _want_ your card these days. Those that do have some sort of OQRS solution. Use it.

4) Some stations now prefer or strongly prefer LOTW. Take the hint. They don't want the hassle.

5) Do you have envelopes on file with your buro? For a variety of obscure reasons (some explained, some not) the DX can decide to respond via the buro even when you send direct.

There is an art to this that one learns over time. There's a lot of lore and a lot of things work "sometimes".
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO1X on March 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
in the past 6 months I have direct mailed 495 QSL cards about 40% CW and 60% SSB (not that I could see any differences), I am working on both 5 Band DXCC and 5 Band WAS so there was a mix of domestic and DX cards. 96 of the 495 went to US operators and my response rate to date is 81 of the 96 returned so far - the longest has taken about 4 months - one unfortunately went SK and his widow retuned my card with the explanation (very sad).

DX cards totaled 399 with 302 returned so far, a surprising number return in less than 10 days from certain DX locations. 66 of the 302 went to USA managers, 14 were OQRS. I am waiting on 97 DX cards in total, 11 handled from USA managers and 2 OQRS cards make up this 97 outstanding. Some DX cards took a while, some noteworthy mentions was 2 months from Sierra Leone, 3 months from Kuwait and 5 months from Trinidad, Moldova and Macedonia. In every case, USA managers returned green stamps, when I could not determine if 2 or 3 were required for DX - I put 3 and had 1 returned in about 6 cases. In one case (Panama) both were returned - it was a nice CW QSO too!

So, in my case - direct DX took about 5 months maximum. In my mind the 97 outstanding range from a few days to 7 months - so I likely has some AWOL never to return.

Hope this helps out in your analysis, if you have any questions - please ask.

Tom - WO1X
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by ZL4IV on March 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
QSL replies were taking up so much time. Then I got a QSL manager then I found that I had to be very careful in my logging or time would be sent sorting it out. I do reply to QSL cards but it's not part of what I see as my hobby. All my obligations (which it should not be) are dealt with usually within 6 months but it is just not a priority. If a QSL card is requested during a QSO I say that it will be eventually sent out.
Like LOTW, I probably have not submitted anything for a year or so because I think I will have to re-learn how to do it again. QSL-ing is like digi modes or CW, some of us are into that part of the hobby, some of us are not. I think my aversion to the work load of return QSL card problem is why I don't call CQ any more and if I do I will work maybe one extra station but not a pile up.
Maybe it's not the answer you want but here it is and I think I am not the only one with this attitude.

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO1X on March 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
ZL4IV - Rex, I hope you didn't take my write up as sour grapes or complaints about DX QSL return rates or timeframes. What I was trying to demonstrate is the domestic rates were not much different and the timeframes were not really all that different either.

In my QSO's and QSL's I have had some memorable ones, the Panama ham previously mentioned who graciously took the time with my harsh CW and returned my cash as well. He should have kept it as ear payment!

Along the way, I had a phone QSO with ZL2CS, Wayne in your part of the world. I have a limited antenna situation and I think he heard the excitement in my voice and was surprised I had not heard a ZL on the air previously. Wayne asked me a few questions about the antenna and radio (we share a passion for Yaesu), towards the end of our QSO I asked about a QSL and he said send mine with a return envelope and sufficient postage which I did the same day. You can imagine my excitement at what I found in the mailbox ten days later. Both my wife and mother in law were happy for me and remain amazed at this great hobby. The power it takes for a light bulb allow communication to the other side of the planet.

Sorry for the diatribe, I would imagine the paperwork requirements to fulfill your returns is substantial - I hope the next time you are at the desk with the chore, I hope your work is a little easier and your thoughts about the folks you make feel the way I did that day make the work go faster!

73 to u es urs - good DX!

Tom - WO1X
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by ZL4IV on March 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Thank's for the reply. I was not having a complaint about QSL-ing but just to point out that sending a reply is in a different priority list than the one that sent it. During 2013 it took me one year to reply and annoyed many due to the fact that I worked lots from an island that is sought after. Some were polite in asking why the delay, some were not. I have now got over my serious health problems but my problems are not other peoples problems. I hear one of your ex presidents avoids snooping by the NSA so uses snail mail to do that, good on him, I still like to read a letter. Our system now has gone from next day delivery to the fastest being delivery 3 times per week for local stuff. In-fact when I buy from eBay your postal system is fast and you should be proud of it.

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N5YFC on March 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Being retired, I now use LOTW for all my QSO's.
I wait until I have a full page in my logbook
and then I upload it to LOTW. So far I have
uploaded over 900 QSO's and have almost 100
verified. If someone sends a SASE I will return

RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K4YZ on March 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
WY4J Opined: "...Life is too short to get our blood pressure up over trivial matters. Make sure you check it often and don't forget those pills. Hate to read about another SK old geezer that had a stroke or heart attack over their hobby..."


N4KC hit it on the head.

For some of us, this is not so "trivial". Being mostly housebound, being able to work towards a goal and achieve it, albeit for Amateur Radio related awards, IS a big deal.

And being a retired ER Nurse, I know that more people live longer that have something yet to do...Rarely does someone have "a stroke or heart attack over their hobby" when that hobby gives them meaning and purpose.

Your mileage obviously varies. I read where you said you did all your QSLing in the 70's. So now it's "I Got Mine And Screw You", huh...?!?!

I dare say I know who's going to have that stroke or heart attack before me.

No "73" for you.

Steven Robeson, K4YZ
GySgt USMC(ret'd)
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by WO8USA on March 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As an UPDATE: as of late March, I've received no more QSLs from the sample.

Some of the basics for my experiment have been forgotten. I limited my QSLs to those with an established QRZ profile with clear instructions on their QSL preferences (only direct was chosen), SASE/SAE + postage needs (no IRCs used), and, for DX, those with lower volume counts. None of the megastation operations were chosen.

So this coming weekend is the CQ WPX Phone Contest. I encourage everyone who is interested to pay attention to use QRZ QSL instructions and pay attention to direct mail return rates, use the buro where possible/desired (I think 12 years later is my personal record for getting a QSL), and experiment with LoTW. Interestingly enough, I got a 25% QSL rate for the 2014 ARRL DX Phone contest within a few weeks. While "functionally equivalent" it just does not give me them same thrill as I got when that first QSL card arrived many years ago. They may be apples and oranges, but we need to preserve the art of QSLing as much as CW, knobs on radios, etc, but not inhibit forward growth in the art while recognizing economic realities/volume demands for the DX.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by KB5IAV on March 30, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I started tracking my QSLing using a spreadsheet and here's what I found. I use SASEs with foreign stamps purchased from James Mackey and so far have had a response rate of 87.01%. The rate for U.S. stations I sent SASEs to is 75.14%. These numbers are strictly for digital modes.

I've also sent QSLs with SASEs to numerous US managers and never had one not respond.

As for response times, for DX it's usually around 1-2 months, and that's for both managers and direct QSLs. I've had a few take longer, like one that took 1545 days, and another that took 1104 days. I track this information because I'm chasing digital awards and if I don't get a response in a reasonable amount of time, I resend the card and that also gets my response rate up, while some stations, even if it says on they will QSL and I follow the instructions, they still don't QSL.

I'm also on LOTW and usually upload logs once a week. If I get a card direct, return postage or not, I always send a card back direct. If I get a card via the bureau, I return via the bureau.

LOTW is great for awards, but I like having the cards since they are something tangible. I have a few cards from countries that are no longer in existence, like East Germany and Czechoslovakia. My Guantanamo Bay card is also an interesting conversation piece. Even though LOTW makes getting awards much easier, there's nothing like a paper QSL.

Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by W3TTT on April 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I am not interested in a QSL that costs $2 or $3. I would rather buy my grandson an ice cream cone.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by N2RJ on April 7, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Before you send envelopes to your incoming bureau, it's always a good idea to check their policy. Here in the 2nd call district we DO NOT accept SASEs. Instead, we have a postage credit system where you are charged per ounce of cards. It's convenient and you can even put money in your account via paypal. It works out well for our subscribers. If you are a member of the NJDXA you get your cards for free at the meetings.
Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by K3LUE on April 10, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Good topic for sure. We've often heard about the "DX QSLs for profit" and always hoped it wasn't so. Postage costs, QSL printings, etc have all increased and with it, more problems with QSLing. I still have cards from my novice days in 1960 and love to look at them now and then. DX-wise, I'm so glad I did that and got my 300+ countries several sunspot cycles ago when it was "an SASE and a green stamp" and you were pretty certain to get the card. Electronic confirmations seems to be the way to go but I still look forward to bureau forwardings or the mailbox...a habit that fortunately, has never grown old.
RE: Experiment w/QSL Managers and DX $$SAE  
by VK3MEG on April 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I fairly new to dxing about 2 years. At first I thought electronic and now have a manager cause my work load is pretty full on and I hated not sending cards back. and now I really appreciate the cards I get. I can also assure the person who sends a card to me will get a reply. once the country count builds it starts to get exciting even my wife loves going to the mail box to see if any cards have arrived. I work 50-100 stations a week so it builds up quite quickly.
btw I also do LoTW and eqsl they have enabled me to get dxxc easily now getting the cards checked to climb the ladder higher. my Lotw rate was around 10% up to 1000/1500 qso its is now around 22% qso count is 4500 interesting with the large number samples . still havent got 100 countries confirmed on eqsl and have 142 on Lotw and 162 all up.

Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Other Recent Articles
DX News -- ARRL DX Bulletin #34:
Just Ahead In Radiosport:
Webinar Helps to Build Ham Community Cohesion, Momentum for H.R. 4969:
Pat Barkey, N9RV, Named As Next National Contest Journal Editor:
W1AW Centennial Operations Heading to Arizona, Maine: