The answer to your question depends on where you live. My experience in
Georgia at this time is that the percentage of requests for QSLs from
stateside stations in contests is very small (with or without SASEs).
Apparently that is not the case if you live in Nevada, Idaho or other
rarer states. The last one I got for WAS and therefore the rarest one
in my mind for years was North Dakota (of course there were only 48
states then!). Now, in contests, it seems to me that Nebraska may be
the rarest one there is for multiplier purposes. But there still seem
to be plenty of non-contest operators in Nebraska. At any rate, you
would have to get a big sampling from all states to get a national
average and you would still know that it varies greatly depending on the
state (and perhaps the county or grid square, or even the prefix).
For what it's worth, I respond to every QSL received, with or without
postage in the same manner it is received. I agree with Bill Fisher
that the return envelope is really more important than the postage. For
DX stations that I am answering QSLs for (and I was not the operator or
one of the operators), I usually include a note with the QSLs that don't
have at least postage or an envelope or a label that SASE should be sent
for direct reply from QSL managers.
I use the ARRL outgoing bureau for all bureau cards except for a few
bureaus that send their cards directly to me. (OK, OE, maybe HA) Those
that come directly from overseas bureaus are responded direct by air and
I include any other cards for those countries that are on hand for
bureau response. For years, I included the US replies for DX stations
in with my outgoing cards and assume that they were send on the the
various bureaus. That would be in accordance with a recent posting on
this reflector. For the past several years, I have been sending these
cards directly to the various US bureaus. These are in response to QSLs
sent to the DX Bureaus (primarily the 8P bureau) that are eventually
forwarded to me in some fashion, usually by the kindness of some 8P6 ham
or a visitor to the island.
It would certainly be easier to just send out QSLs en masse for each
contest, but I feel that is unfair to the bureau workers. I love to
receive QSLs, including those I had not requested, but not every one
feels that way and it would be taking advantage of the bureau workers to
burden them with unwanted QSLs just to make it convenient for me to
print labels for everyone and forget it.
I have had a number of contesters, primarily in Europe, tell me over
the years that they no longer call certain well-known contest stations
because they wanted or needed a QSL from them and never got a reply.
That is their privilege, but I hope everyone will know that, if they
didn't get a reply from me for my operation or for one for which I am
the QSL manager, it is from one of two reasons: I didn't get their
request or the response got lost.
Over the years I have known of a number of incoming requests that got
lost. Two big envelopes from the W4/K4 bureau were received with no
contents, the postal cancellation machines having torn them up.
Actually there were contents, but it was the daily receipts from some
South Carolina business that must have been in another torn up envelope
at the same mail facility. Unfortunately the SC business did not get my
QSLs. Interestingly, over the next few years, I received a few of these
QSLs in envelopes with notes from the senders indicating that they had
mysteriously appeared in their mail. Apparently the post office
returned at least some of the QSLs to the senders. On another occasion,
a visiting 8P9 brought back a bunch of QSLs from the 8P bureau and a box
($5.00 postage) disappeared in the mail.
I agree that the QSLing policy is the decision of each operator or
group of operators, but I don't want to discourage anyone as to ham
radio or from working me in a contest. So the golden response rule
applies here as well as at K3ZO. Send me your QSL for any contact that
I have the logs for and I'll send you a response the same way you send
the request. For bureau cards, I will also respond to e-mail requests.
John, K4BAI/8P9HT, cw opr & QSL Mgr 8P9Z.
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