I have been a very lousy QSLer since a few years. I know. I admit. I have written about that in the past.
Over the course of 22 years I have developed a love-hate relationship with QSL cards. The scale leaning very strong towards hate nowadays. There are a few reasons for that. It’s not that I’m against QSL cards. It’s mainly a tradition from the past and I’m all about traditions. Heck our hobby is nothing but a tradition. Something from the past. The practical value today is zero. Apart from EmCom and the likes. But still I am VERY passionate about ham radio. At least in the way I like to experience it.
When I started out every QSL card was a treasure and a small victory. One of the local club’s Honor Roll DXers (old skool, when DXCC still might have meant something) said: Yeah it’s all great now, the first cards, but wait until you can fill a few shoe boxes with USA or JA alone. He turned out to be right. Slowly I filled my shoe box. Then another. Then another. Gathering cards for the designated ARRL DXCC QSL card checker. And so I applied for DXCC. CW only, of course. But then…
After four or five years on HF I completely lost interest in the DXCC program. My focus shifted to contesting and it still is there. Haters gonna hate but it’s what I truly like. I like talking to DX too, very much so. Unfortunately it’s been hard to find some CW on the bands outside of contest weekends. The mode-whose-name-I-shall-not-mention turns out to be the coup de grâce for casual weekday DX. But I digress.
My HF activities usually generate about 15k to 25k contacts or more in a good year. That in turn generates a lot of incoming QSL cards. Which by itself is totally fine. I’ve been using a few special calls too (OQ5ZO, OO5ZO, OS5ZO and also ON5ZO/P). So I get QSL requests for each and every callsign from the same stations for the same band-mode combinations. Which has absolutely no value for me. So what is my problem with ‘buro QSL’? It’s not the financial cost. Sure there is a price tag but as it’s part of the hobby, I can live with that.
The main problem is that is so very time consuming. Each time I see the local club’s QSL manager, I get a big pile of QSL cards. I need to process these. And mark the contact for QSL purposes. I consider that a total useless job seen from my side. Because I just don’t give a damn about these cards. By now I have three huge plastic bins full of QSL cards that are just taking up space. And should I ever need a specific card from a specific station, the search is just not going to happen. I’m not a red tape lover, I’m not an accountant. I want to put up an antenna, hook up my radio, hope for propagation and talk to fellow ham radio operators. Preferably as far away as possible. I collect experiences and memories, not paper.
Time is a problem. Job, family, raising kids, keep in touch with old time friends, work around the house – you know how it goes. The time that remains should be spent on the air. Not by shoveling through hundreds of QSL cards. Another W2 in NY on 20m. Another DL on 80m… Again: I do not want to deprive anyone of my QSL cards. But I just don’t want to spend my time on that.
At first I sent out handwritten cards. Needless to say I soon quit that. Printing labels was the next move. After processing another few hundred cards, I needed to print a few hundred labels and stick those on a paper QSL card. Sort ‘m out, get them to the club… Repeat every so many weeks. Weeks became months. Months have become years. I guess I’m really behind. A few intensive home improvement projects over the last five years didn’t help. And certainly not the complete shack tear down half a year ago. Everything in boxes, many of them still waiting to get unpacked. If it’s not contest related hardware in the box, it’s still stored somewhere.
Along came GlobalQSL. The Israeli company that printed your QSL cards with all the data on it and sent it out to the right QSL bureau. Just upload an ADIF containing the contacts you want to confirm et voilà. I still had to process the cards though. But the label printing and sorting was already out of the way. The price was right for full colour QSL cards. Notice how I put everything in past tense?
At first their system worked flawless. Nice cards and the turnaround time between uploading and the other side actually receiving the card was quite short. Then complaints started popping up on various reflectors. Do the cards still leave? Why don’t they respond to my email? I uploaded an ADIF but the other guy never got my card after such a long time… Their reputation down the drain and soon it became clear that for some reason they were out of business. A case of take the money and run? Who knows? With many hams still having a few Euro or Dollar worth of QSL credit. Like me. Long story cut short:
GlobalQSL ceased to exist when the owners passed away. The Spanish QDURE ( https://qsl.ure.es/ ) seems to fill the gap. I made an account and checked it out two years ago but I never uploaded or bought QSL credit so far. From what I read and hear, it seems to work. So that is part of my new QSL policy for 2023: upload to QDURE and have them do the job for me.
But that does not address the nasty issue of all those incoming cards. I need to find a way to keep people from sending me a QSL card. I’ll gladly send you mine. If you really want it. Free of charge. Traditions, you know. But as much as I appreciate and like our HF contact, no matter how long or short it was, no matter how many kilometers you are away – I don’t need your card. I don’t want to announce on my QRZ.com page ( https://www.qrz.com/db/OQ5M ) that I’ll throw your card into the trash bin and that I’ll never send you my card. Because I have never thrown a single QSL card away and my intention truly is to send you my card. However I don’t want to spend hours processing an endless stream of QSL cards. Hence I need to find a way to deter people from sending me a paper card through the IARU QSL bureau.
A first attempt was made a few years ago. I put this on my QRZ page:
I use LotW and eQSL. I don’t collect paper cards anymore.
QSL via the buro WILL TAKE A very very LONG TIME to get your card.
I DO NOT COLLECT QSL CARDS anymore but I reply to all incoming QSL requests.
If you want to get the QSL card faster, just send me an email or send your card direct with SAE and postage.This is what was on my QRZ.COM page until this morning.
But I guess this is not enough. So I will try to formulate it in a different way so that it’s clear that bureau cards might never gonna happen when you send yours to me and wait. My friend OT1A ( http://ot1a.blogspot.com/ ) uses the notorious ClubLog OQRS system. And that’s what I’m about to do. Gather the requests, make an ADIF and launch that file into the QDURE system. I have just activated OQRS on my three active callsigns (OQ5M, ON5ZO and ON5ZO/P). Now I need to find a way to formulate and spread the word that if you want to receive my paper QSL, the only way to go is file a Clublog OQRS request and wait for QDURE to do its part. Oh wait, I will need to exhibit some form of self-discipline to bridge the gap between OQRS and QDURE. An incentive for 2023?