Tuesday, November 10, 2009

C91VM QSLs invalid for IOTA awards

I have a lot of sympathy for people who live in rare DX locations. Whenever they go on the air they must find themselves on the receiving end of a pile-up of people interested only in claiming a tick in the box, making it impossible to enjoy a normal radio contact. If that isn't bad enough they are then expected to incur the considerable costs of QSLing all these rubber-stamp contacts. I think it is fair and reasonable for DX stations to make a charge for QSLs that covers the costs of printing and mailing the cards. (I also think that awards should accept eQSLs as valid confirmations, which would eliminate both the cost and the chore of QSLing for the DX station.)

But is it right for DXpeditions that travel to an exotic location specifically to give out contacts with that location to demand payment not just for the QSL but also a contribution towards the costs of the expedition itself? The RSGB IOTA Committee and G3KMA do not think so. They have announced that C91VM QSLs will be rejected for credit towards IOTA awards because of the operator's policy of requiring a $5 payment for each QSL. The cards will be accepted for IOTA credit only if the operator changes its policy and agrees that requests made with sufficient return postage will be met in a timely manner.

It is very costly, time-consuming and often hazardous to life and health to mount a major DXpedition. It must be hard to get sponsors for expeditions in these difficult economic times. And I dare say too few of those who request a QSL are willing to make voluntary donations. So expeditioners must bear most of the costs themselves.

But nobody forces the DXpeditioners to go. Rather than open the gate to a flood of commercial DXpeditions with cards at $5 a time it would be better if these operations didn't take place at all. This could be the thin end of the wedge that could lead to all kinds of 'organizations' obtaining desirable special prefixes from their licensing authority and then demanding a fee for the cards.

I don't think this kind of commercialization is in the interests of the hobby. I think the IOTA committee has made the right decision here.

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