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Ok so you've worked some guy and you want to get the contact confirmed (QSL). You can of course send a card via the buro which will mean sending the card via the buro of your national society or direct to the buro of the national society of the required country. Most of the time using the buro is PAINFULLY SLOW! You can wait literally years to get a card back! However the buro is efficient and cheap and enables you to send cards off in batches. n some countries, the buro can only be used by members and cards will be returned to the sender if they are for people who are not members (e.g. Germany). Also some countries do not have QSL bruo's (see links below).
The alternative to the buro is to send a card direct to the station via their home address or a QSL manager. First thing to do is determine if they QSL at all as some stations for various reasons do not. Obviously this should be done when you speak to them. You should also determine the route i.e. direct, or via manager (some stations insist on QSLing via buro only). Often a station will give their QTH details over the air, but more than likely will refer to 'via call book' or a manager.
If you don't have an international call book (which lists callsigns and addresses) you can often get the details from the internet off the QRZ homepage or Buckmaster.
There is also a CDROM which lists QSL routes. Do be aware that sometimes the information on QRZ and Buckmaster may not be up to date and often both of these two sources will list a different address for the required station. If the stations E-mail is listed then contact them to ensure you have the correct info.
When you send a card make sure you include return postage and a self addressed envelope. The return postage is usually in the form of two international reply coupons (IRC's purchased from the post office) or dollar bills (referred to as green stamps). Note that some countries such as Libya, Iran and Lebanon don't accept IRC's and in others you may need more than two to cover postage (I understand Egypt requires four). If in doubt send one IRC and 1 dollar bill.
Make sure you always include return postage. Do not assume that because someone can afford a radio they will be able to afford return postage on your card. DX stations may receive many hundreds of cards a month, and may not have the money to fork out for envelopes and postage out of their own pocket. This especially applies to managers of DXpeditions who might have tens of thousands of cards to reply to, and of course stations in poorer countries.
Often you will have to wait quite a while for a reply to a direct card, or sometimes you might receive nothing back at all! Before assuming the station is a QSL bandit (i.e. someone who collects cards but doesn't reply), you should consider the following points. Firstly the card may not have got there in the first place. In poorer parts of the world cards are often opened and pilfered for dollar bills or discarded when no money is found. The best way to avoid this is not to put a callsign on the envelope just the stations name. Often you can check via E-mail to see if a station has received your card (QRZ, or buckmaster sometimes carry this info). If all else fails you can of course send another card. If you are pretty sure the guy is a QSL bandit or green stamp collector let everyone else know! Post it on the newgroups.You can save others time and money by doing this, and who knows someone might do the same for you one day!
Tips for sending your card
1/ Check to ensure details on the card are correct (date/time etc.). I once had a card returned from a guy who could not find me in his log. It turned out I had put the wrong date on the card!
2/ Do not put any call signs on the front of the envelope to be sent. In some poorer countries unscrupulous postal workers have got wise to the fact that such envelopes may contain money. Just write down the name of the station operator.
3/ Use a strong envelope for both sending and return, and make sure that addresses are clearly legible in capitals, using a biro. Do not use felt tip pens or markers as the ink can smudge. Put your return address on the back of the outgoing envelope.
4/ Make sure you put your callsign on the return envelope. This makes life much easier for DX stations dealing with large amounts of cards to match up the correct QSL card with the correct return envelope. I once had a card back from a manager who put someone else's card in my envelope. Of course I had neglected to put my callsign on the front of the envelope!
5/ Put air mail stickers on both outgoing and return envelope. If you use the blue airmail envelopes, make sure they are good quality as some of the thinner ones are prone to tearing (as well as being transparent which means the unscrupulous can often see if any money is enclosed!).
6/ Fold your return envelope in half and insert it edge down in the outgoing envelope. In this way it will not be damaged by someone who uses a letter opener across the top edge.
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