Shocking price estimate for QSL PR campaign

In the aftermath of WW SSB I have been enjoying the fun of processing another few hundred QSL cards. I started a three year backlog in full artificial enthusiasm early this year, but things came to a hold with the birth of my second son. When the dust settled, it was contesting time. Then log checking time for the UBA contests. So The plan was to continue to work on the QSL job in summer. Yeah right.

Together with the batch I did in January, I am now already up to 2600 cards needed. There still is a BIG shoe box to be done. No kiddie size, think Bigfoot boots. My guess is that this will lead to a total of at least 4000 QSL cards needed. Current price per thousand at GlobalQSL’s is 106. That means 424 US$ or €326. Possibly more.

Three hundred twenty six Euro. Ouch. And for what? Not only did I spend countless hours flipping cards because callsign and QSO info are on either side, or look through the log because the card says W1ABC but the log says W1ABC/P or /4 or whatever. No, after all these hours I need to dig up good money to send paper to people that they will all throw in a box never to be seen again.

There is an alternative. Former ‘purveyor to the royal ON5ZO household’ QSL printer UX5UO. Let’s do compare apples and oranges for a change and go for the cheapest style. Still looking good and better than the toilet paper grade I sometimes receive. That’s only 36 Euro, times four is 144 Euro. Four thousand labels cost (fast online quote) about 80 Euro which adds up to 224 Euro. Then I need to outsource the sticking of the labels to a subcontractor (thanks mom!), sort them, box them and get them to one of the UBA QSL managers. For about hundred Euro more?

So it boils down to another case of shut your mouth and open your wallet. Hey this feels like paying taxes! I did the math when GlobalQSL started their business and compared with the price of high end UX5UO QSL cards and labels and labour, and decided that GlobalQSL was the way to go. It’ll be no different this time. Still I think it’s a waste of money. Y’all better work me next time, receivers of my precious full color glossy QSL card!

5 replies on “Shocking price estimate for QSL PR campaign”

I don’t make that many contacts but I use GlobalQSL as manually checking and writing out QSLs is still a chore. But I don’t QSL contest contacts. Again, I don’t make that many because I only take part for fun, but I doubt that anyone who has made a few thousand contacts could care if they receive a card from me. I do appreciate the gesture when a contest station QSLs me and says “thanks for the points, see you in the next contest.”

Hi Julian. I notice that most QSL cards come from casual operators. Just like I started out as a DXer using the contests as a vehicle for DXCC and of course QSL cards. It’s only fair to reply them, it’s part of the game. I know that but it doesn’t make the QSL job any less of a burden if you lost interest in DXCC and QSL cards.
Most contest stations I work over and over again, either don’t send cards at all (yay!) or QSL every new band/mode slot and print ‘return card not needed’ on the QSL. I think I may be adopting this procedure in the future.
An additional ‘fun factor’ here is that I see the same cards coming in for the same band/mode slot for ON5ZO and OQ5ZO, OS5ZO and OO5ZO – the special prefixes I used in the past. This means I need to maintain multiple sets of cards etc. Since these calls are not used anymore, these stacks of QSL have LOW priority.

Back in 1996, when I changed my call from WB2EKK to K3TN, I ordered 1000 K3TN QSL cards as part of a big PVRC club card buy. I made very few QSOs with my home call back then, all my contesting was at W3LPL or guest operating at other stations under their call. Then I was very inactive until about 2009 when I got back on the air and using my call in lots of contests – and the buro deluge began!

This year I made about 1500 QSOs as KP2/K3TN – another deluge…

I’m using my logging software to print labels, send to ARRL outgoing buro, etc – and did the same math you did and will switch to GlobalQSL when these old cards run out. Though, I can save a bit of money by bringing all my outgoing cards to the Dayton Hamfest and giving to the ARRL there – at least save the postage of shipping the cards.

But the $$ are less the issue than the time – I’ve cut it down quite a bit by only replying to buro cards that explicitly say “PSE QSL” – but GlobalQSL looks like it will drastically reduce the time spent.

Like you, I think there is an obligation to reply in kind – I upload to LotW and eQSL, and I return direct cards, and feel I should reply to buro cards. I actually enjoy looking at the cards, I have to admit – there is something better about getting a postcard from a friend on vacation compared to an email, afterall.

73 John K3TN

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