Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How not to QSL

I was going to write about some thinking I've been doing for my St. Kitts trip but that will need to wait. I just finished processing another batch of QSL cards and I have some observations to make.
Let me first say that I've apologized in previous posts like this one that there were certainly things we could have done better to ensure accurate logs were kept. I will not reiterate those ideas here. The DXpedition has the responsibility to ensure that QSOs are recorded properly. After that, though, the remaining responsibilities rest largely with the operator at home to get a QSL card request together, in the format requested by the DXpedition team, to the proper QSL manager, and bundled with the correct self addressed stamped envelope or postage. We were quite specific about how QSLing would be done and what operators must do to receive a card. (The guidelines were published nearly two months before the trip.)
Most QSL card requests for the Montserrat trip were made by operators who could follow directions. For the rest, well, allow me to provide a (partial) list of ways not to QSL to a DXpedition. Here are ten easy steps to be a bad QSLer.
  1. Never visit the DXpedition web site. If you visit the web site you might see a link like QSL information. What fun would that be?

  2. Never visit QRZ.com* - Going there would point you to the correct QSL manager.

  3. Don't include postage - The DXpedition may be dedicating hundreds of hours to the planning and execution of their trip. Why not make them pay hundreds of dollars in postage costs so you and your friends can get a souvenir QSL card for free?

  4. Don't bother with an envelope - QSL managers have lots of time (and envelopes). They can fill one out for you.

  5. Don't bother double checking your card's data - Guess. Put a band and time down. See if the QSL manager will spend that few minutes searching through the logs for you.

  6. Design your card so it is pretty, but impossible to read - If your card is confusing, or your penmanship is horrific, that just means the QSL manager will spend that much more time admiring your handiwork!

  7. Design your card without your name and address on it and leave out the SASE - The envelope you sent the request in has your return address, of course, but make sure it appears nowhere else. Since QSL card requests and the envelopes are quickly separated during processing, this insures a nightmare for the QSL manager. Imagine the fun the QSL manager will have on his hands-and-knees searching through that huge pile of freshly opened envelopes for the one that matches your very special card!

  8. Send your card to the wrong QSL manager - Yup. This is tons of fun. A nice QSL manager will then need to stop what he's doing, figure out where you should have sent your request, make a new envelope for the correct QSL manager, and forward your request (with your SASE or postage) so you've got a chance of getting that card, too.

  9. Send the wrong amount of postage - Too much or too little are both good ideas! Just make sure it is wrong. Sending expired IRCs is also a good move.

  10. Pack and tape your materials so they are guaranteed to tear upon opening - This is one of the best ways to trip up your QSL adversary. It takes a little extra effort to ensure that even the most careful opening of your QSL request will result in a shredded, unreadable mess, but if that's the effect you're looking for, it will be worth it!

Obviously the above is all tongue-in-cheek, but I assure you that I saw, or handled, at least one of every category above in this effort. My system is pretty good. I can fulfill about 25 QSL card requests per hour of effort assuming there are no data errors (not in log) and everybody provides an SASE or self-addressed envelope. The exceptions, the "not in log" problems, wrong band, wrong mode, and the myriad of problems listed above really gum-up the process, though.
Being a QSL manager will be, even for a modestly sized DXpedition, a tremendous amount of work. The work is enjoyable and rewarding. It is also extremely time consuming. Certainly, no one should undertake this responsibility unless they are patient, thorough, and willing to do the work over a long period of time. Request may come in years after the event.

I'll return to my St. Kitts planning and some thoughts about Dayton tomorrow.

* Actually, VP2MST had "QSL via AB7ST" in his QRZ entry. Oops. I didn't notice that until tonight.


Blogger Unknown said...

Seems like a good argument for electronic QSLing to me. I'm only an occasional operator, yet I still find filling out QSLs a bore. Electronic QSLs save time, paper and postage. It's a no-brainer to me.

May 09, 2007 4:05 AM  

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