Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/12/16

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] LHSA Gripes, long
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 23:40:11 EST

It is with some interest that I have been reading numerous LUG postings over 
the last few days about the LHSA, Viewfinder and the Catalog.  While most 
have involved complaints about several aspects of our organization, mail 
service and the cost of membership, most have been complimentary about the 
quality of VF and for this, a hearty thank you.
I would like to address some of these complaints with the facts and reality, 
and not conjecture.  The biggest issue here is finances and the cost of 
membership.  This year we have increased dues for the first time in 5 years.  
As most of you can surmise, the VF and Catalog do cost quite a bit of money 
to put out and in fact, most of the budget of LHSA does go to the VF.  We 
also realize that this is the main reason for most of you belonging to LHSA, 
and I have put my heart and soul into it for the past two years to give the 
membership the highest quality journal which my budget will allow. All 
without advertising which other sister publications resort to.  I would love 
to have the budget Leica Photografie, Leica World and Leica Quarterly have.  
Wow, can you imagine VF then.  Color throughout, better B&W reproduction, 
more pages, and on and on.  But back to reality. I am proud of the VF, but of 
course I always am striving to out do the last issue.  What most of you don't 
know is that we have gotten postage increases from USPS every year for as 
long as I can remember.  We have also gotten at least one paper cost increase 
during the past three years.  This year we were faced with a major decision.  
Increase dues or decrease the size, scope, color, etc. of the VF.  Naturally, 
I opposed cutting back on VF and I think all of you would agree that that 
cutting back on VF would be a huge mistake.  As the Editor, I refuse to 
compromise the quality level currently achieved by VF. I felt that cutting 
back on VF would be a great disservice to the bulk of the membership.  As 
part of a dues increase study, we looked at cost areas associated with our 
publications and were really surprised at the cost of postage being such a 
key factor.  It is also a factor we have virtually no control over. As 
reported by Emanuel Loewi, we use a mail service to handle the mailing of the 
VF, Catalog and other mailings such as the raffle, renewals, etc. This is the 
most efficient and cost effective way to do this.  US mail is by permit and 
the mailings to each country outside the US are also handled by this service. 
 The pieces are bundled by country and forwarded on to be handled by the 
respective postal services in each country.  I'm sure you all realize that 
there is no way to mail each individual piece to each individual member, and 
that using this service is the best and least costly way to handle all of 
this.  I'm sure that you also realize that the efficiency of many of your 
individual countries mail services leaves a lot to be desired.  Many of the 
gripes about problems with receiving publications should be directed at your 
respective postal services and not at the LHSA. Throw in Sept. 11th, a major 
anthrax scare and general postal inefficiency and you begin to understand why 
mailings can be late.
As I stated earlier, we studied the actual costs of mailing VF, Catalog, 
raffle tickets and other mailings around the world and we were very surprised 
at the huge cost differences of mailings in the US compared to Canada, South 
America, Europe and Asia. In fact, it was found that we were effectively 
subsidizing the cost of membership for those in Europe and the Far East.  The 
board felt that the dues structure must more accurately reflect the cost of 
supporting those members in other countries (insert the hated "foreign" 
word).  We also listened to our members in Canada who for years have 
complained that surely their memberships can't cost what those in Europe and 
Asia cost.  Upon examination, this is correct as far as mail costs go, but 
they still cost more to mail to than the US membership.  That is why we have 
now adopted a three tier dues structure.  As far as the LHSA considering 
everyone not in the US as "foreign", this is the definition of those outside 
the US by the US Postal Service.  After all, we are all members of the Leica 
family, but we just can't seem to convince the USPS of this distinction.  
As far as the amount of time the Catalog takes to reach overseas members, 
this again is something we have no control over.  I agree that it's not fair 
for "foreign" members to get their catalog three weeks later than those in 
the US.  I will now pose the question, What is the answer to this problem?  
We are in a new information age with email, ebay, etc. making the paper 
catalog more of an irrelevancy.  LHSA leadership realizes this and we feel 
that the electronic catalog will go a long way to address this problem.  Ed 
Schwartzreich, Catalog Editor, proposed the electronic catalog at our board 
meeting in April and after a lot of work by Ed and John Barnabus thinking the 
whole thing out, the board approved going forward with the electronic catalog 
at the board meeting in San Antonio.  Many things had to be considered in 
this, including security, fairness to those who weren't online, how to 
administer the electronic catalog, etc., etc.  We think we've got the bugs 
worked out.  Any input from you out there would be greatly appreciated by Ed 
or John.  Their email addresses appear on the VF masthead every quarter.
I hope this answers some of the questions and complaints voiced here over the 
past few days.  The LHSA "big wigs" do listen to membership and there are 
good reasons behind a lot of what we do.  What really scares me now is the 
talk by the US Postal Service of dramatic rate increases next year in the 
wake of Sept. 11th and the anthrax scare.  The economy is down and mailings 
are dramatically down, and as a consequence, so are postal revenues.  Let's 
hope this doesn't come to pass or we may be looking at another dues increase 
next year! 

Bill Rosauer
- --
To unsubscribe, see