Friday, 23 August 2013

Sending QSL cards to the RSGB Bureau

Over the last few days I have had very lengthy correspondence with the RSGB QSL bureau following the return of several cards with a scribbled note on the back of a standard letter. an item they term a leaflet.Their initial reply generated many more questions.
The gist was that sending cards to the bureau, although I have always sorted into country order and prefix order within that country, that I should have sorted the country blocks by lowest prefix, i.e. countries with a "A..." prefix would supercede "B..." regardless of country name (numerics precede alpha) . My initial reply when I sought clarification of this (never received this despite a second request to confirm my premise) was that I should follow the sequence documented in the RSGB yearbook, a publication I don't own. This is not mentioned in the instructions on the RSGB website nor on the 'leaflet' so how are we to know? It would seem a 'no-brainer' to publish this list on the website but nobody has done so. If we could read minds then we wouldn't need expensive rigs. Apparently Affiliated societies are sent a free copy of the yearbook, so I should use that. I am not a member of a Society.
When I queried the logic of this and keeping the sort information and it's use 'secret' I suggested that it should be available on the Website which I had been advised had "much more information".
The problem with the website was that it made no reference to any such list or document. In addition the 'note' referred to the need to split Russia cards into prefix blocks, all sequential however, and as such my prefix sort accomplishes it. No reference on the leaflet or on the website. Again asked to follow a rule where the information required is not on general release.
There were many other points raised such as checking that (for example)  African countries have a bureau using an IARU list before sending and / or checking to ascertain any via xxxxx. information.Again not mentioned on the website although on the 'leaflet'.

In order to help myself and all parties concerned I developed a list of issues to be addressed reproduced below;

The most glaring thing that has come out of this exchange is however the total lack of effective 'official' communication to us members as to how they want cards sent , summarised below:

  1. Website makes no reference to any list of any required sort order
  2. Website does not have a link to above list
  3. Inherent assumption that all ‘senders’ will know about and have access to this list even though it is not on general release or referred to anywhere.
  4. Website makes no reference to Russia callsign blocks.
  5. Website does not say to keep USA cards in a separate block, but does say not to use separators. Similary for 'new' 5 Russia blocks.
  6. Website does not ask that reference to the IARU list of bureaux should be made
  7. Website does not refer you to or have any link to the ‘leaflet’.
  8. Leaflet’s instructions different to the website, no mention of call zone sorting of USA cards
  9. Neither website or leaflet mentions the new sort rules for Russia cards
  10. You’ll never get rid of human error but can make things easier by keeping things simple

    Actions to address the differing / misleading or incomplete instructions for sending QSLs should be taken in order to bring the written and the electronic instructions into line, and provide links the relevant information, i.e. sort list and IARU list. However you state that you do send cards to some bureaux not on the list so it would be more definitive if the RSGB bureau made it clear which bureaux they deal with and provided this information on the website. This would also be more up to date as you would not be relying on other organisation’s timescales when changes occur. When done this should feature prominently in Rad Com and not be a note in QSL Matters.
The final reply I received was very dismissive and basically said
  • Get access to a yearbook
  • We'll eventually get around to putting information on the website.
  • There is only so much information they can put on an A4 leaflet. (Note: they could use the other side as well, or is that reseved for scribbled notes?)

I respect the work those people do on our behalf, but bleating on about cards not being recived in their 'ideal' order is not now not one of them until such time that they PUBLISH the information needed to accomplish this and are consistent in what is both written and electronically distributed. As a former Area Representative of the RSGB I am quite honestly disgusted at their apathy about improving their own communications, and in view of the use of modern technologies to produce cards a system which can easily inerface will reduce sort time as well as human induced errors when dealing with large pre-sorted despatches.

I will probably now send cards in much smaller batches which are easier for me to manually sort as the algorythm to do this automatically when the cards are printed would be far too complicated.

Links referred to below:
RSGB QSL Instructions
RSGB Leaflet
IARU Bureau list