The problem with bureau cards…….

Posted: August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

The concept of exchanging QSL cards via the various bureaus has been around forever. For many EU countries, bureau cards are the most inexpensive way to QSL as their membership in their local club or association pays for the cost of processing their cards.

Bureau cards are a sore point for many DXpeditions. While most of the costs of a Dxpedition are upfront and during the Dxpedition, the cost/impact of the bureau cards comes later. For a major Dxpedition making 100,000 contacts  or more, there is quite some cost in buying the cards, buying labels, laser toners and mailing the cards to the outgoing bureaus. This can easily exceed $1000 or more. Many Dxpedition leaders including myself would rather spend the $1000 on helping defray the costs of the Dxpedition.

Many of us feel that LoTW should soon replace bureau cards for a major (and costly) Dxpedition. Several factors exist that are that have largely prevented this from happening. Adherence to the bureau process is very high in EU where exchanging bureau cards have virtually no cost. Most clubs, foundations and associations that sponsor DXpeditions require the Dxpedition to return a QSL in the same fashion that it was received. This is pretty clear and gives the Dxpedition little discretion in controlling their costs.

Let’s examine those costs a little closer. My estimate is that it costs a Dxpedition .40 (forty cents) to produce and send a bureau card. This includes the costs of the bureau cards, the costs of the labels, toners, the mailing and ARRL fees. A Dxpedition like 7O6T made over 150,000 contacts and had 24,000 unique call signs. Say that 1/3 of those unique contacts wants a bureau card. That is 8000 bureau cards at .40 cents each. This would include those guys that send a direct card and a bureau card as “insurance”.

Do the math, 8,000 requests X .40 cents equals $3,200. As you can see, those “free” bureau cards are not in any way free for the Dxpedition to provide to that part of the DX community that prefers them.

The Dxpedition leader must anticipate those costs and set aside the $3,200 to cover the costs of the bureau cards long after (sometimes years) the Dxpedition has concluded.

My suggestion is that club and foundation sponsors allow the DXpeditions to modify their QSL policy and allow them to offer a speedy LoTW upload instead of processing bureau cards for years to come.

What do you think?

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Comments
  1. Andy says:

    Hi Paul I am agree with your last notice. Many of HAMs do not collect paper QSL cards anymore, but having no information when LoTW will start to run on exact DX-pedition, they have to send QSLs via the bureau just in case to get confirmation at least this way (if they do not use OQRS or direct methods). 73, Andy, EU7A

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