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Author Topic: Will non-US stations responded with IRCs?  (Read 899 times)
K6CRC
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Posts: 47




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« on: March 19, 2008, 02:25:39 PM »

I am a fairly new General, less than a year. I had several contacts in Central and South America that I wanted to exchange QSL cards with. Most did not have email addresses listed in QRZ.  

I want to include something to cover return postage, either 2 US dollars or an IRC. I am nervous about sending money, as there is a very good chance it will never get there.  OK, so can use an IRC.

I was thinking - the IRC requires the sender to go to a post office, stand in line, and get it redeemed for postage to the US. A lot of people probably would not even bother.  

Do hams uses IRCs successfully?

I am probably just going to stay with LoTW, but there may be some cases in the future to send a card.

Any thoughts appreciated.
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W5FYI
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Posts: 1046




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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2008, 02:53:01 PM »

"Do hams use IRCs successfully?" Sometimes, but even the ARRL has stopped taking them in payment, stating that "...IRCs are not legal tender.... IRCs can still be sent to foreign hams to help them with postage costs, but even there the use of IRCs is diminishing as postal regulations in other countries change."

A good place for information is www.n6hb.org/s-a/irc.htm. Then you should be able to Google around for discount unredeemed IRCs and save some money over having to buy them at face value.

Good luck, and happy DXing.
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WA2CWA
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2008, 03:00:01 PM »

I always use the ARRL's Outgoing QSL Service. Has worked very well for many years.

Pete, wa2cwa
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9921




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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2008, 04:01:27 PM »

I use cash quite often.  first put it inside a self addressed envelope  that you can not see through ( like the security envelopes, and then put this and the qsl card into a larger envelope ( I use a #6 and a #10. ) I also run a piece of tape on the outside clousere to keep folks from pealing it up.

do not , I repeat do NOT ever put their call ( or your call)  on the outside envelope so no one knows its from a ham.

for canada and mexico you send a dollar.  for most other countries you send  2 bucks and some now require either 3 bucks or an IRC.  most dx take IRC's with out problems. I am disabled and don't get to the post office for IRC's so I send $ most of the time.  I get about 90 to 95% return rate.  if it is a dxpedition I will often put in a few extra bucks to help out, and also do the same for a QSL manager.

there are lots of places to look up address for dx, like QRZ, Buckmaster, IK3QAR.com , and of course you can always google a call.

I have a good return rate doing it this way, and I also send card out by the buro ( arrl.org.)
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N6AJR
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 04:01:27 PM »

I use cash quite often.  first put it inside a self addressed envelope  that you can not see through ( like the security envelopes, and then put this and the qsl card into a larger envelope ( I use a #6 and a #10. ) I also run a piece of tape on the outside clousere to keep folks from pealing it up.

do not , I repeat do NOT ever put their call ( or your call)  on the outside envelope so no one knows its from a ham.

for canada and mexico you send a dollar.  for most other countries you send  2 bucks and some now require either 3 bucks or an IRC.  most dx take IRC's with out problems. I am disabled and don't get to the post office for IRC's so I send $ most of the time.  I get about 90 to 95% return rate.  if it is a dxpedition I will often put in a few extra bucks to help out, and also do the same for a QSL manager.

there are lots of places to look up address for dx, like QRZ, Buckmaster, IK3QAR.com , and of course you can always google a call.

I have a good return rate doing it this way, and I also send card out by the buro ( arrl.org.)
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K3WVU
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Posts: 491




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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 04:16:27 PM »

Go to most post offices and ask for an IRC and usually the clerk will look at you and say "A what?"
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WA4DOU
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Posts: 436




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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 04:25:42 PM »

I too have used cash extensively with great success. I have only recently begun using IRC's again and generally for cases where a ham requests them in lieu of cash. I think my return rate is in the 95-98% range. No matter what you do, some hams are not going to qsl. If the countries you work are well populated with hams and if you can be patient, you best bet is using the bureau (buro). Very low cost, relatively long wait. LOTW will provide many opportunities for confirmations that will cost you the least. It will also be relatively quick. LOTW and using the bureau together will work well in most instances. Save the direct qsl'ing for dx'peditions and countries having only a few hams or those who don't have bureau's. Otherwise, you'll spend a fortune trying to acquire qsl's.
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1042




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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2008, 07:34:40 PM »

I have a couple of IRC's that I'll probably keep as a relic, cause in spite of the fact that the post office claims to make 'em and sell 'em, IRC's are damn hard to come by.

Which is a pity, with the sinking $ we have to send at least $3 now and that's getting thick enough to be suspect so then you are sending a $5 bill.  DXCC is getting more expensive every year...<G>
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G0RIF
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Posts: 129




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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2008, 04:35:47 AM »

"in spite of the fact that the post office claims to make 'em and sell 'em, IRC's are damn hard to come by"

It's the same here in the UK - most smaller post offices don't seel them and staff in many larger post offices don't know what an IRC is - the "IR-what?" response is very common here too.

But, having said that I do get a pretty good return rate when sending IRCs, especially within Europe and the US, so they do seem to work ok in places. For all else I send $$$ and there I do find that many never get replies.

Dean - G0RIF
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W5GA
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Posts: 430




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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2008, 06:53:54 AM »

To get IRC's into a small branch post office, talk to the postmaster in your local PO, not the desk clerk.  The clerk won't know what they are, but the postmaster will, and will also be able to order them for you.

Once they have them, then comes the learning curve.  When you buy one, it must have a cancellation stamp applied by the post office.  This goes in the lower left corner ONLY.  If they get this wrong, refuse to accept is.  If this mark goes anywhere else, the IRC is no good.  The redeeming office cancels them in the lower right corner.  The going rate is $2, which is a deal at the moment.  I use them almost exclusively, and haven't had any problems.  The problem with cash is that in some countries it is illegal for their citizens to have $ in their possession.  With IRC's I don't have to worry about which countries those are.
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WD6S
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Posts: 19




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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2008, 12:40:04 PM »

I have been using IRCs without problem for foreign stations and get a very high response rate. I get a lower response rate within the US though I (almost) always send  a SASE.

I am curious that I have never received a request for a QSL card in the past year I have been licensed. Am I just quick to send out my requests and beat the others to the post, or is it just newbies like me that are enthusiastic about the cards?
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W5GA
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Posts: 430




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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2008, 01:55:52 PM »

Not everybody sends cards to everybody.  If you were a DX station, would you particularly care about yet another U.S. card?

If you want one, send one.  Don't forget an SASE if you expect a return.
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NA0AA
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Posts: 1042




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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2008, 05:48:09 PM »

"""I am curious that I have never received a request for a QSL card in the past year I have been licensed. Am I just quick to send out my requests and beat the others to the post, or is it just newbies like me that are enthusiastic about the cards? """

I have had exactly One unsolicited QSL card in the year I've been sending them.

I get a good response generally - I have not worked a lot of DX but most stations that I've SASE/Stamped have been returned.  Some stations take longer than others - I just got a card from PEI that took 6 months, and I suppose the cards from Ducie will take at least that long.  No hurry really.

I just love to get mail, even if I do have to pay both ways almost all the time.

My rule is that if you qsl me, you will get one back even if I have to pay the postage.
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N6AJR
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Posts: 9921




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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2008, 09:27:00 PM »

I get the occasional request for a card now and then ( probably 4 or 5 a month) but I work a few contests and work lots of folks when I do.

I get requests for mostly my county ( solano ) and usually on an  "unpopular" frequency, like 160 m.

or like I say during the california QSO party.  the one day out of the year when you actually WANT to talk to yet ANOTHER CALIFORNIA station...

but if you are only working locals on 20 m then the demand is not all that great.
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KB5IAV
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Posts: 42


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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2008, 10:32:43 AM »

I've used IRCs and Green Stamps(aka $1 bills) and have had successes and failures with both.  IRCs can be expensive and many post offices don't stock them, and $1 bills can be stolen in the mail or as has already been mentioned, get hams in some countries in trouble with the law because of restrictions on foreign currency possession.  In many cases, to exchange foreign currency, the DXer has to pay a fee, which may mean we need to send $2 or $3 to cover expenses as opposed to $1.

I once knew a ham who spent many years in Bolivia.  He lived in a small town and the local post office didn't exchange IRCs.  The only post office that exchanged them was in the capital city.  Since he travelled to the capital city once a month, he would have to wait until then to exchange them.  I've heard this situation isn't uncommon in many countries.

Another option you might want to look into is foreign stamps.  There are DX stamp dealers who sell airmail stamps for a variety of countries.  You can buy stamps for the country you are trying to get a QSL from and make your own SASE for them so when they get your card, all they have to do is put their card to you in the mail with no standing in line to exchange currency, IRCs, etc.  There are a couple of dealers listed in the reviews here and that advertise in QST who can sell the stamps you need.

When sending to alot of poorer countries, it is best to do like others said, to not put callsigns on envelopes, use envelopes that are hard to see through, that you can slide your return envelope into without folding so there's no buldge, etc.  Some of these countries have alot of mail theft, and callsigns or a buldge from a folded envelope are usually a dead giveaway something valuable is inside.  

For postage on the envelope you are sending out, it's best not to put colorful commemorative stamps on your envelope as those may also be stolen before your letter gets to where it needs to be.  I either take it to the counter at my local post office or use the self service kiosk many post offices have now, that way I get the right postage guaranteed, plus I get a meter sticker which will not be of value to a stamp collector.

Hope this helps you, and good luck in your QSLing.

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