Introduction This is not a definitive 'how-to' guide, but rather a
work-in-progress compiled with the help of fellow DXers. These pages will
grow as others contribute their ideas and experience.
If you would like to add new information, your input is welcome- and requested.
Please email your comments.
The Problem Mail theft is widespread in certain areas around the
world, such as some of the CIS and South American countries.
It is a major challenge to directly mail QSLs
to hams in these places. Mail is routinely pilfered for valuables
such as US dollars, which are a popular way of sending return postage for
QSLs. Many hams do not appreciate just how valuable dollars are in some
depressed, overseas economies, and how tempting they are in the mails.
Some Solutions There are 3 basic ways of mailing postage
overseas: IRCs (International Reply Coupons),
US dollars, or SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelopes
with stamps from the country you are sending to.)
There are 2 basic strategies for getting
your envelope safely delivered:
(Another QSL strategy not covered here is to use couriers, managers, or
agents. If you happen to have ham friends who travel or live in a
country of interest, that may be the best means to get a card in some cases.)
Concealment If your strategy is to hide the contents of your mailer
envelope, any of the 3 payment methods can work. Survey results varied greatly-
some got no returns at all while others who used certain
concealment and/or disguise methods claimed good return
rates. Nobody had 100% returns.
Disadvantages: Return rates may fall off if too many hams start using
this method. More to the point, if the name and address of the DX operator
become known to the mail thieves, few concealment methods will work, no matter
The best of the bunch uses this method: #10 business-size,
security-lined envelope with pre-printed business return address
; a slightly smaller #9 security
return envelope that fits inside without folding; crisp, new $1 or $2
bills (flat- no wrinkles); and filler sheets cut up from scrap computer
printouts to confuse anyone who tries to 'candle' the envelope to see what is
inside. High return rate is claimed.
Openness If your strategy is to create the impression that there
is nothing of value
in your envelope, then SASEs are your best choice. IRCs may also work
in this mode- they are less recognizable than
dollars, and are much less desirable.
Unsealed envelope flaps can self-seal in wet, humid
climates. It is best to slip some wax paper behind any unsealed flap. This
increases the mailer envelope thickness, however, attracting more attention.
> SASEs might have value to some
thieves- they could be sold for some small fraction of a dollar and reused
by putting an address label over the original address. > IRCs can
not be redeemed for postage in some countries like Russia. They are sometimes
traded as ham currency, however. SASEs are much more easy for the DX
operator to use.
The best of the bunch uses this method: European-size
mailer and slightly smaller return envelope, privacy-lined,
red/blue airmail border; SASE return
envelope with postage of the destination country; mailer envelope
flap tucked in, not sealed ! High return rate is claimed. The
presumption is that mail thieves will look in the envelope, see the SASE, and
let it continue on its way. (Thieves attracted to a sealed envelope will
divert it and later destroy everything after opening to avoid leaving any
Opinion and Recommendations It is dollars that the mail thieves are
after, not SASEs. While it is true that a dollar is sometimes a little
cheaper than the postage stamps for an SASE, what is the true cost of QSLing
to everyone when so many mailings go astray? I suspect some of my SASE mailings
fell prey to dollar hunters. If we all sent only SASEs (or IRCs) to the problem
countries, we might eventually retrain the thieves
to think of ham QSL mailings as having "nothing of value". Perhaps they
would even seek more profitable employment elsewhere. :-)