*EDITORIAL* How to Treat a QSL Manager

Most people would reason that dealing with a QSL manager when it comes to exchanging confirmation cards is far more reliable than dealing directly with a home operator. 

Some hobbyists, nonetheless, have had nasty experiences with QSL Managers to the point where they will no longer deal with them, electing instead to send direct to the operator himself – even if it means risking a non-return of card and/or wasted contribution.

The poignant fact is that there are more protocols to follow when exchanging QSL cards with a manager than there are fleas on a dingo and most of these remain unwritten rules that rival the cloak and dagger stuff of terrorism suspect detainment.

While DA-RC Continental QSL Managers operate in accordance with the accepted protocols of Freeband QSL Managerialship duties established over many years, this is not the case with a handful of Freeband managers from other groups who operate more as QSL card mercenaries than persons entrusted with providing a service for their DX Group and/or its respective members.

Some non-DA-RC QSL Managers, for instance, are known for demanding additional contributions, among other things, as currency for the card, or even just pocketing the US dollars offered as contribution if the letter contains no self-addressed envelope (SAE).

True, these rules of engagement can be very confusing for the inexperienced Freebander or even the part time QSL’er who sends only a couple of cards every few years for ‘Most Wanted’ DXpedition contacts. 

The rules, after all, change almost daily.

With this in mind, here are some recommendations for hobbyists around sending correspondence to managers, including DA-RC Continental Managers, in order to achieve the best results. 

They are by no means relevant to all managers but if you follow the advice given then you can’t go wrong (with DA-RC Managers in particular)…


  1. Make sure you have the correct Manager for your particular contact, as well as the correct coordinations.  Many DX Groups have a large number of managers and it can be difficult to keep track of whom is managing whom.
  2. On the front of the envelope write clearly the recipient’s name (ie. the Manager) and his/her postal address. 
  3. Be sure to write your name and return address on the back of the envelope – even if you have included a SAE or sticky address label inside.
  4. Do not write other details on the envelope such as the manager’s callsign, your progressive number, QSO dates, or whatever you include as contribution. 
  5. Do not write the DXpedition operator’s name c/o either – just the Manager’s name only.
  6. It is courtesy to include a SAE or a sticky label with your address written on it to save the manager both time, as well as the additional cost of providing an envelope.  Some non-DA-RC managers are known to pocket contributions and dispose of QSL cards to the rubbish bin which do not contain a SAE despite the fact it is generally considered not compulsory.
  7. Be sure to write the correct callsign on the QSL card you send.  Many hobbyists use more than one callsign but occasionally forget which one they made the contact/QSO with.  They then write the incorrect callsign on a card and send it off.  Upon receipt of this card, the manager will check against the log sheet provided to them by the DXpedition operator to ensure that the QSO details, including the progressive number, are correct.
  8. If a callsign does not appear in the log then a card will not be sent and rarely will a card and contribution ever be returned.
  9. Instead of local time, use only UTC or GMT time on your QSL cards and always state which one you have used.
  10. Never use as contribution the postage stamps from your country as they are worthless in others.  Only use International Reply Coupons (IRC) or US or €.  You also should check that IRCs are suitable in the country of the QSL manager before you send (Note: IRC are valid forms of contribution for all DA-RC activities).
  11. Make sure you have put enough postage (stamps) on the envelope you are sending to the QSL manager.  Your post office will tell you what amount is required; it is not good if the QSL manager has to pay at his end to see your letter, and the quickest way to have your cards tossed in the ‘Time Wasters’ rubbish bin.
  12. Do not use IRC stamped in the lower right corner or both lower corners as they are void.  This is a common mistake performed by Post Office staff who are not familiar with how the IRC concept works.
  13. By all means, send a polite email inquiry to the QSL Manager if your card is not received after a couple of months.  Most cards are received within 6 months so be patient.  This option is better than worrying that it’s gone missing in the mail or worse still spreading word of a certain manager being unreliable.  Then you definitely won’t get your card!

On top of the above recommendations, if you do include samples and or a photo or postcard, don’t always expect the same back from the manager. 

Remember he only represents the operator who you have contacted and is not privy to souvenirs from that location or photographs of the operator’s station. 

Standard contribution also will only cover a basic postage cost so if extras are included then the manager would have to pay additional costs out of his own pocket. 

DA-RC Managers will often include sample cards where appropriate.

Lastly, remember that most QSL managers operate at a loss for the benefit of their group; as a courtesy for its members and as a service for the DX community in general. 

And while there is some rotten fruit amongst the crop, just as there is in all walks of life, most QSL managers do a fantastic job!

I hope this info helps.

73 de Darren, 43DA001