Monday, January 13, 2020

QSL for sale

QSL card on photo are not for sale....just a collection sample.
The titel of this post says it all. In my opninion something bad has happened the last decade(s). Some of our fellow radio amateurs need to sell their QSL cards. In their opinion it is too expensive to exchange QSL, and in some occasions they are right. Ok, I know I've been writing about this in Nov. 2019 but it is still in my mind...

Online systems confirm your contact now, a QSL is not needed. 

However, there are still some paper QSL collectors left, although I expect that this will decrease. For those that still collect paper QSL cards the hobby is becoming very expensive, at least if you want those interesting QSLs from rare stations. There are also fellow radio amateurs that do ask money for their card because they don't want to send a QSL, most of them are contesters and make thousands of contacts every year. I really don't know why they ask money? Most of them have a page in which you can set your preferences and you can add a text as well. Just write you don't want to send QSL and QSL received will not be answered. This should be clear for those that still want to send a paper card.

Now, I was researching the QSL or confirmation method the DXCC stations have that I worked as "new ones" on 60m last year. Most of them do confirm by bureau/clublog OQRS/QSL manager OQRS/LOTW and eQSL. But a few of them do not, they only confirm direct, you have to buy your QSL in my opinion. Lets look at my list:

A50BOC - confirms via LOTW, via JH1AJT direct or clublog OQRS, no bureau. Cost: 3 USD
T6AA - confirms via LOTW - paper QSL possible. Cost: 3,50 USD
XW4XR - confirms via LOTW - paper QSL possible via E21EIC. Cost: 2 USD
J69DS - Only direct! Cost: 2 USD
CY9C - via clublog OQRS, no bureau. Cost: 4,50 USD
V31DL - confirms via LOTW - OQRS via clublog, no bureau. Cost: 3 USD
PJ6/NM1Y - Confirms via LOTW - direct paper QSL possible. Cost: 2 USD
3D2AG - confirms via LOTW. QSL request via paypal. Cost: 3 USD
8P2K - confirms via LOTW, via KU9C direct or clublog OQRS, no bureau. Cost: 3 USD

Total: 26 USD for 9 paper QSL cards (!)

6 stations do confirm via LOTW. If you are no paper card collector this will save you 16,50 USD.

Still, if you want to confirm J69DS, CY9C and 3D2AG you need to buy their cards. With CY9C at the top as the most expensive one! They do not confirm via LOTW. Why? Well, you decide for yourself...

Personally I think in case of asking money for a QSL for a good reason like helping people to buy medical supplies, food or other goods they need for a living it is ok with me. Some DXpeditions like the previous Mercy Ships DXpeditions in Africa are there to help people, this justifies asking money to confirm the contact. But for private stations or DXpeditions asking money!?!

If people want to do a DXpedition they should count the QSL confirmation in their budget as well. Most DXpeditions are doing that since it is possible to request for a bureau card most of the time. But sometimes, like the CY9C DXpedition in this example, it looks like they want to cover part of the costs. This are just examples for 60m contacts I worked during 2019. Sorry, but personally I don't understand? If you can't cover the costs don't go for a DXpedition and leave it to someone else who can. At least offer your fellow radio amateur hobbyists a confirmation via the free and valid LOTW but don't force everyone to buy your QSL card.

Sorry, if you as reader of this blog, have other opinions. I can imagine you want that QSL confirmation at any cost. Some people seem to have a lot of money to spend for their hobby, but most don't. However, in the end it is everyones own decision...

Just a reminder my QSL code of conduct logo/site:

Update 14-01-2020: Rectification and change of this post. I took A50BOC as (bad) example but received a LOTW confirmation today (coincidence?). When I did research for this post it was not clear to me they would confirm by LOTW it was not on their QRZ page, now it is. So I changed my post.

Update 12-03-2021: Rectification, 3D2AG confirms via LOTW now.


  1. Replies
    1. It is so unfortunate Danny. LOTW and eQSL are so easy to use. The problem is that some of our fellow amateurs do want to activate a rare country but not at any expense. I don't like to buy a card, it should be a choice....73, Bas

  2. Perfect. I quit QSL cards except for LOTW. I realize that LOTW is not everyone's cup of tea, but then the line for people wanting my QSL card is non-existent.

  3. Hi Bas, I think it is up to the expedition to decide how they organise their funding. If confirmations are valued that might be one source (some type of confirmation, priority options, or even all confirmations). As long as this is clear from the start I don't see the problem. Depending on what kind of confirmation you value, you know you might become one of the sponsors.
    73, Lars

    1. Hello Lars, I disagree. Of course everyone is free to fund a DXpedition before or after. But not by buying a QSL card. Some DXpeditions don't give you a choice (CY9C example). I know it was a very expensive DXpedition, but if they want it....they pay for it. Really, LOTW and eQSL are free, why should you not give your fellow HAMs the freedom of choice? In the end everyone is free to buy a QSL card of course, I don't forbid anyone to do that. The above is my opinion and the opinion from lots of fellow HAMs. 73, Bas

    2. Yes we disagree. I respect the effort of the dxpeditioners to the extent that I think they can set the rules and decide how to organise their funding. As a chaser you are completely free to either not work them or just skip the confirmation if the cost outweighs the value to you.
      73, Lars

  4. Hallo Bas, ik ben het volledig met jou eens. Het moet geen bron van inkomsten worden. Dan moet je geen expeditie beginnen. 73 Hans, PE1BVQ

  5. Yup, I find it quite anoying too. People who ask to pay to get a QSL card.
    Now I have to say, I am a radio-operator at a museum, we changed our QSL system too from always sending to new contacts towards, only sending them when we received a QSL card. But we do not charge people for it. As we see it as part of our museum PR to exchange them. Would be nice if more saw it that way, to spread information, a mission or your existance by a card. Not as a money gaining thing.

  6. Ik begrijp je frustratie. Maar je haalt er DX-Pedities bij zonder er volgens mij veel vanaf te weten (sorry dat ik het zo schrijf Bas).

    Achter A50BOC zit ook een goed doel. Kijk maar eens wat JH1AJT Zorro allemaal doet met Seisa en BOC (Bhutan Olympic Committee).

    Waar haal je trouwens de info dat A50BOC geen QSL doet via Bureau ?

    Dan praten wij nog niet over andere kosten die het team heeft gemaakt om dit mogelijk te maken. Wij hebben die keuze zelf gemaakt. Zoek maar eens op wat een Visum per dag kost dat je in Bhutan bent.

    Ik heb zelf al heel wat DX pedities gedaan waarvan ik dadelijk na de DX peditie alle QSO's heb bevestigd met een QSL kaart via het QSL Bureau.

    Het is jammer dat de grootste commentaar vaak komt van mensen die zelf nog nooit uit hun zetel zijn geweest. Sommige noemen het dan nog een bron van inkomsten. Waar wacht dan dan op... er is toch niets leuker dan 4 x per jaar op DX peditie gaan en er nog een hoop geld aan verdienen. Of zou het toch geld kosten ?

    ON5UR (Team member A50BOC - A5B)

    1. Max, dit was geen aanval op jullie fantastische DXpeditie. Ik heb ook genoten van de mooie foto's op je fb pagina. Echter het is nergens te lezen wat de relatie tussen de DXpeditie en het BOC precies is? Ik zie en lees ook wel wat Zorro allemaal doet en bereikt, zeer prijzenswaardig! Maar wat is het doel van de DXpeditie m.b.t. helpen van mensen daar? Hebben jullie daar apparatuur neergezet? Of geholpen met communicatie? Ik lees dat nergens terug? Misschien kun je mij er eens over informeren...leuk verhaal misschien?

      Op de QRZ pagina staat duidelijk het QSL beleid, direct of via OQRS geen bureau beschikbaar. Heb via OQRS geprobeerd maar krijg geen bureau keuze te zien, misschien is dat nu veranderd? Als dat zo is zal ik het artikel aanpassen.

      Ik geloof best dat een DXpeditie een hoop centen kost. Maar men moet helaas ook denken aan de gevolgen (QSL kosten). Die kosten zijn in principe niet nodig want LOTW is gratis. Gelukkig doen jullie nu ook LOTW dus mijn klachten waren onterecht, ik heb het artikel dan ook aangepast.

      Nee, een DXpeditie brengt geen geld op, dat schreef ik ook niet. Het is ook een reden waarom ik nooit op DXpeditie zou gaan. Maar heb wel het idee dat men door verkoop van QSL een deel van de kosten wil dekken. Ik vind dat niet passen (mijn mening), een ander weer wel. De meningen zijn verdeeld.

      Max, inderdaad heb ik van jou al QSL kaarten ontvangen via bureau van DXpedities. Zonder kosten uiteraard. That's the real spirit! Wat dat betreft hoef je je niet te verdedigen.

      73, Bas

  7. Hallo Bas, vroeger vond ik het erg leuk om een QSL kaart te krijgen uit verre oorden. Maar jaren later merkte ik dat de kaarten in een schoenendoos verdwenen en ik er nooit meer naar kijk. Ik doe niet meer aan QSL kaarten. Wel nog eQSL maar ook met lichte tegenzin. Betalen voor QSL kaarten? Ik vind het zot. 73 Paul

    1. En zo denken veel amateurs er over Paul. Toch zijn er nog duizenden papieren QSL kaart verzamelaars.... 73, Bas

  8. My personal Code of Conduct for DXpeditions: don't go if cannot afford it (except for Most wanted Top10 and subantarctic destinations where sponsoring is needed). Then, within one week or even during the DXpedition upload to LotW (I settle for 1 or 2 months too). So EVERYBODY can have a confirmed QSO FOR FREE !
    A50BOC confirmed in one month BTW. (Tnx !!) If you really want a paper card, request direct, and yes, that involves some costs (2US$). I was surprised about the number of cards I got for HI3/PF5X via bureau, while clearly stating on QRZ.COM that it's either LotW or direct ... (HI is #263 on the Most Wanted list, so what are we talking about anyway). BTW there is a cheap way of making low numbers of QSLs for those who really want a paper QSL: make a design in Photoshop or GIMP and send that to a photoprinter for 100x printing. Sticker on the backside with QSO details and there you are ...
    Happy QSL-ing !

  9. As you imply, it's down to a question of what motivates the request for money. I agree that expeditions should not be built around others paying for their 'holiday week in the sun', especially as few such expeditions are filled with anything other than rich white men.

    Wales has a good number of operators, but not that many, so the requests for QSL cards is quite high. Eventually, several cards a day are coming through the post, at around $3 each to send back. I like cards, and welcome them, but don't actively seek them, unless they are especially unusual for some reason. I have children who cost money. I can't afford to subsidise people's collecting habits, especially when most of them are retired people from the rich Western nations. It is also the case that cards simply gather dust, and go straight into the recycling bin once the OM is dead. In other words, they have no real purpose.

    So I decided to charge the cost of return postage, which is still a real-terms loss, because it doesn't include the cost of making the cards or the time in travelling many km to the nearest Post Office to send them.

    I think my approach is reasonable, because once I started asking for the return postage, the number of cards sent to me almost stopped. I now only get one or two a month. So all those people who would have sent me a card, but don't because of the charge, can't really have wanted it all that much, can they? I send $1 back for EU requests, and every return gets a free fridge magnet QSL 'card' (another unrecovered cost in my $3 charge).

    In the end, LoTW is free and fast, and records are easily electronically transportable to other places. It is not the same as a beautifully-designed physical card, but the Buddhist always promotes not collecting 'stuff', with which I am only too happy to comply!

  10. John, you are in a difficult situation. You like the cards but you're not willing to pay the postage for someone else to return a card. Though they spend just as much money as you do to send you a card.

    In your situation I would delete my postal address from and make clear stations have to e-mail you first about a exchange of paper cards. You can ask them why they want your card (standard message copy+paste) when they have a good argument you can always decide if you ask money or not.

    Really, I don't understand people send you money to buy your QSL. Just like I wrote, they probabely have too much money for their hobby.

    Well, I think within a decade or a few decades there will be no exchange of paper QSL cards anymore. All of these problems are solved then...

    I like the Buddist way of amateur collecting. Just have fun, experiment and learn. But I guess it's difficult, it is in our genes. We are born with the collecting gene, we need to collect...

    73, Bas

  11. Okay.... so if this is a hobby and nobody should be paid for the final courtesy... then transceiver manufacturers, antenna manufactures, logging software developers, co-ax, masts, rotators should all be given to us free of charge. Love the idea, but some of us are realists and i for one believe that people providing a SERVICE have every right to ask for a few bucks to cover costs, development, research and all other costs. Thank you!


Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas