Mike N4DIA writes "When was the last time you bought IRC's from your local Post Office? If it has been awhile, take a deep breath. An IRC will cost you $1.75. That is up from $1.05. My memory may be faulty, but when I first became a HAM when I was 15 years old, an IRC was 5 cents more then the amount the postage to a foreign country was. I took a long hiatus from Amateur Radio for various reasons and now I am back into the hobby full time. Last year, I went and purchased 50 or so IRC's at $1.05 and commented to the clerk about the high cost. He agreed with me it that it was a silly amount when it cost 60 cents to mail 1st class to Canada and 80 cents to most other parts of the world from the U.S. Coming from my Post Office today, with the new $1.75 IRC's, I am really wondering about the age old practice of exchanging QSL's by sending IRC's. I am well aware of the cost of postage and that some stations send out hundreds of QSL's. DXpeditions, Special Events and rare contacts spend huge amounts of money in postage. I was recently chastised by a VE station located on a small island when I sent him a QSL with a self addressed return envelope with a CANADIAN 1st class stamp on it! He, believing I was a new HAM, wrote me a note about sending IRC's along with QSL requests and that is the standard practice among HAM's in different countries. In the past year since getting back on the air, I have received NO IRC's. I have, however, received several hundred QSL's and requests for returns which I complied with promptly. I am blessed with the financial ability to do so without reimbursement. I understand not everyone is. Anyone who has exchanged QSL's with me within the U. S. knows I send SASE with my cards. There are several ways to look at this. If I QSL direct, I have paid the postage to that station. It is up to him to QSL if he so desires. I do send IRC's to stations that request one or that I feel they could probably benefit from one. In the past year, I have received 3 QSL's back from 38 QSL's I sent out with IRC's. The ever heard - I QSL via the Bureau 100% is taken with a grain of salt by this station. Maybe the "Bureau" is swamped and backlogged but in the last year, I have not received a QSL card from any Bureau. I know HAM's who swear by "the Bureau", but I am not one of them. I would love to see the ARRL and other HAM's get involved in some kind of action to work with the U S Post Office along with foreign postal services to remedy these costs. Amateur Radio is alive and thriving even with the Internet, cell phones and other digital communications afforded to everyone. It is still a great hobby AND an asset to all peoples. It is also costly enough, even with the barest station. If I was 15 years old today, I would be hard pressed to finance a working HF station. My 1st station was all surplus gear, homebrew and home made antennas. It has become a rich man's hobby. (Or one that takes far more money than in the past.) The personal computer has helped out with making your own QSL cards reducing the cost of having to pay a printer to do so but how may 15 year olds can afford to send out 100 QSL's to foreign contacts with IRC's? Do the math. 100 QSLs with IRCs comes to $255.00. (Just the postage) Heck, how many adults can justify that in their home budgets? We as Amateur Radio Operators are time honored to pass this hobby on to the next generation and the next, but we also have to do something to make it affordable to our future HAMS. I admit, postage is a small part of that equation, but it is a part of it and it is spiraling out of control. 73's Mike N4DIA"