A couple of years ago a W DXer contacted me by email and told me he was unable to buy IRCs anymore and asked me to buy some for him here in Canada where they are still sold in the post office. I had been on several IOTA island trips and had plenty of IRCs at that point and was used to buying them from QSL managers so had not asked anyone at Canada Post about them and was surprised to find the cost was $5.00 per IRC, I’m not sure if this price has increased since then but wouldn’t be surprised if it has. When I passed this information on the DXer must have thought I was trying to rip him off because I never heard from him again. $5.00 is almost twice the cost of Canadian international postage. What is going on here?
I emailed the officer at the Universal Postal Union who is in charge of IRCs and asked him about them. He told me every country signatory to the UPU must redeem an IRC as per the statement found on the back of the IRC — “This coupon is exchangeable in any country of the Universal Postal Union for the minimum postage for an unregistered priority item or an unregistered letter sent by air to a foreign country.” Signatory countries are not required to sell IRCs but are required to exchange them as members of the UPU.
I have not contacted any governments asking them about their stand on IRCs but have had several discussions with other amateurs about their experiences with them in their countries. Recently some countries, including the USA and Great Britain have stopped selling IRCs. Some amateurs in those countries have been told by clerks in their post offices that they do not handle IRCs any longer when the amateur tried to exchange the IRC for postage and the amateur was unable to make the exchange. You can understand the reluctance of amateurs towards accepting IRCs when they have this experience in their post offices. A VK amateur told me the clerks at his post office would not handle them and he had to wait for the manager who was often not there when he tried to exchange IRCs for postage. The manager, when present, would make the exchange but not in a friendly manner, grumbling and complaining the whole time. That would turn anyone against IRCs. In fact, I feel this experience is quite common. Are the postal authorities purposely not training their clerks to redeem IRCs?