• Report: #680652

Complaint Review: American Mensa

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  • Submitted: Sun, January 09, 2011
  • Updated: Fri, February 22, 2013

  • Reported By: Genius — New York Nationwide United States of America
American Mensa
1229 Corporate Drive West Arlington, Texas United States of America

American Mensa GLAAM, New York Mensa, Mensa, San Diego Mensa, Complete Rip Off - uses membership dues for unnecessary lawsuites, does not give refunds Arlington, Texas

*Consumer Comment: What's it going to take, Mensa?

*General Comment: Mensa is not a scam

*Consumer Comment: A few things

*Consumer Comment: Mensa is complete FUN!

*Consumer Comment: Mensa is complete FUN!

*Consumer Comment: Fox and the Grapes

*Consumer Comment: American Mensa Limited

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American Mensa is a complete scam - I have been a member for about a decade and was mostly inactive. I sent my dues thinking the organization for research in intelligence or for Gifted Children.

A few years ago, my daughter qualified based on her test scores and I tried to become more active and started volunteering. Here came my series of rude shocks - the management of American Mensa is controlled by a old boys and girls network of the same race who know each other for years. The management committee not only lacks diversity but it also lacks respect for diversity! and actively pushes down volunteers of younger (and by that I mean less than 50) ages or other races!! Not only that, by its own internal discussions on m-grapevine yahoo group (which is open to public for becoming a member) it spent $1.9 million on a needless lawsuit suing a pharmaceutical company for allegedly violating its trademark - that's $200 per member - for a product that company never brought to market!

Intellectual Property attorneys quote American Mensa as an example of what not to do on Intellectual Property law suits (source http://www.clemcheng.com/html/welcome.html)

Example #1 in American Mensa, Ltd. v. Inpharmatica, Ltd. et al., No. 07-3283 (D. Md filed Dec. 6, 2007) Mensa (the high IQ society)spent over a million dollars in Ferderal Court and lost, unable to stop the sales of AdMensa IQ enhancing product. Mensa was then forced toraid $600,000 from life membership funds. If the lawsuit had only cost about $100,000 by hiring a small firm for a TTAB action (limited to likelihood ofconfusion), there would have been little pain and still enough money to fight a dozen battles. By hiring the expensiveattorneys,Mensa lost the war before iteven started. Thus, in the long run, high intelligenceandeducation are no match for creative efficiency since creative efficiency is what keeps costs under control.

One would have thought that the American Mensa would have learned from the above mistake but not really. It's name and logo committee chair. Robin Crawford uses organization's membership money to have its intellectual attorney call and harass people she does not like, on issues completely unrelated to Intellectual Property! when I realized the racket, I canceled my membership and demanded a prorated portion of my annual dues back which the organization refused!

Phew, joining Mensa is not all that smart! Unless, of course, you want to support the lifestyle of its IP attorney who lives in a 1.6 million $ mansion.

 

 


 





 

 

 

 

 


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/09/2011 12:53 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/American-Mensa/Arlington-Texas-76006/American-Mensa-GLAAM-New-York-Mensa-Mensa-San-Diego-Mensa-Complete-Rip-Off-uses-me-680652. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

What's it going to take, Mensa?

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (USA)

Despite marketing efforts, American Mensa has experienced declining membership for the past several years, and they refuse to address the reason for that: severely disturbed, harassing and predatory members. The group's local, regional and annual gatherings are full of aggressive members who have harassed and even assaulted other members with impunity.

Sexual harassment is a constant feature in this group. Sexually aggressive older men are so common there's an acronym to describe them: DOM (Dirty Old Mensans). For years, a member from New York nicknamed "Orange Man" because he wears that color constantly, has attended the Annual Gathering ("AG"), at which he grabs younger women and shoves his
tongue in their mouths while fondling them. Women's complaints have had no effect. There is no policy or procedure for dealing with this problem. Complainants are told that someone will get back to them in a few days, and then...nothing. Phone calls and emails are ignored.

It's not uncommon for Mensa events to be 75% male, yet nobody wants to address why this is the case. Technically, society is harsher for  intelligent women than for intelligent men, so by that theory there should be a higher incentive for women to join, right? Nobody wants to look at the issue.

Other members have criminal records for assault, sex crimes and, even attempted murder. Often their crimes are against other Mensans. A Regional Vice Chair from Florida, Mel Dahl, stabbed a man in a bathroom. That's right-- a leader in this organization stabbed a man. Another member in New York, Steven Finkelstein, brutally assaulted and financially defrauded multiple female Mensans, and was only stopped because the law stepped in and sent him to jail. Mensa didn't even
reprimand him, let alone suspend his membership.

http://www.nysun.com/new-york/former-member-of-mensa-is-convicted-of-welfare/27212/


Finkelstein is not the only Mensan to be convicted of crimes against other Mensans, yet the group refuses to even look at the problem, let alone make decisions about it.

Many of the predatory members are longtime Mensans because the rest of society avoids them, and are therefore over age 55. The younger adult members have formed special interest groups (SIGs) in which they avoid these predators, and can better address harassing conduct. There is GenX SIG is for members born 1961-1981, and the GenY SIG is for members born
1976-1995.  Sounds like a great solution, right? Well, not so fast. Several chapters have already banned age-based SIGs, and if member Stanley Korn and his Ombudsman buddy Dave Cahn have their way, that ban will go nationwide. Meanwhile, that duo is silent as lambs about addressing the harassment issues that fueled those groups in the first place.

Pamela Donahoo and her cronies refuse to make any changes that will address the problem. Membership continues to decline. What's it going to take, Mensa?
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#2 General Comment

Mensa is not a scam

AUTHOR: Scotch7 - (United States of America)

Mensa is not a scam of any kind, let alone "a complete scam." 

There are a few dozen changes Id like to see, but that would cover less than 2% of its ops and practices. The other 98% of Mensa is insanely great  for 99.99% of the membership.  With 53,000 members in the USA, that remaining 0.01% including a few the internet would call "trolls" would be about 5 people statistically.  Some of them can and do make an astonishing quantity of unpleasant noise. 

This happens with any organization that involves so many hairless primates.

Regarding the lawsuit:  The controversy involved a product named ADMEnsa. ADME is a 'cool' tech in pharmaceutical research - look it up on Wikipedia.  When the defendant added the letters "nsa" to the well-known pharma-industry acronym ADME to form a variation on MENSAs name, and then concocted a marketing scheme to call their product "The Smart" choice, they were clearly trying to trade on Mensa's reputation.

Not pushing back would be akin to letting a VERY valuable trademark fly out the window.  We complained to them about it.  After a couple of years of back and forth with multiple broken promises, we filed suit. That led to more back and forth and more broken promises. It never ever should have come to trial.  However things were not resolved by the trial date so 'trial happened.'

Something that may have affected the process was that the other side - the company  that first proposed the ADMEnsa product - was sold and re-sold a few  times between when we first noticed the problem and the trial.

Mensa did not win won money damages, but could have.  Mensa didn't have to pay the other side any money either and they had to have had similar legal expenses. 

Mensa did establish and quite forcefully - that we ARE willing to fight hard to defend our trademark.

The lawyers won big.  Again.  So what?  It's a price you pay to live in a Republic and way cheaper that physical warfare.

Mensa won too, even if it did not collect expenses and damages.   This time.  Will there be a next time?  Hopefully not, but: "To live in peace you must prepare for war."  And let the world know it.
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#3 Consumer Comment

A few things

AUTHOR: Paul - (United States of America)

I have to start with a rebuttal to your first couple of sentences, you spent 10 years paying dues to an organization you didn't bother to research, and then want to complain about what the organization did with your money? Perhaps you should spend a bit of effort before you spend a bit of money?

That said, my father was in Mensa and I grew up in Mensa, originally joining when I was 13 years old. I left the organization in the early 90s - not out of a concern for who was running the organization, but because, as a university student, I had a sufficent number of peers and in Mensa, at that time, there were not many folks my age.

I rejoined Mensa in 2002 and have (despite frequent moves) maintained a large number of Mensa friendships. I can say that there are plenty of GenX (under 50 y/old) volunteers in a variety of local and national level positions - as well as very active Generation X and Generation Y focused Mensa groups.

I can't speak to your assertions regarding the lawsuits (frankly because I don't feel like taking the time to do the internet research), but you make a variety of other accusations regarding race and diversity for which you provide no support. Regarding your statement that the organization is run by a bunch of folks who have known each other for years - I'm uncertain as to why you find that strange. I would think it is atypical in an organization led by members (primarily volunteers) for members, to be led by individuals who haven't grown with and within the organization.

Lastly, I am sorry that you had a bad experience with Mensa, my interpretation of what you've written, aside from your readily apparent bitterness, is that you showed up one day and tried to run things - and, strangely enough, folks who had devoted a great deal of time and energy to the organization were not receptive to your efforts. Either that or you have a grudge against the attorney who I don't happen to know, but as you put in the effort to find out where they live and the cost of their house, you seem to have taken the time to stalk.
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#4 Consumer Comment

Mensa is complete FUN!

AUTHOR: Rob - (United States of America)

I recently became the leader of my local Mensa group in upstate New York. Mensa is filled with amazing, brilliant, fun, caring, and otherwise wonderful people. Joining Mensa was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My intellectual property law course in law school seemed to imply that protecting intellectual property was a good idea. I imagine Mensa's lawyers felt the same way.

The report describes a bunch of time and money being spent on a protecting Mensa's intellectual property. I assume the person who wrote the report would be in favor of Mensa being less vigorous in its intellectual property protection. The report writer makes the determination that "American Mensa is a complete scam" because Mensa came to a different conclusion on how to handle its intellectual property defense. I couldn't disagree more.

While I don't agree with assertion that Mensa is a scam and I further disagree with the assertion that a particular officer uses her position to have an attorney "harass people she does not like," let's assume that everything he said is true. With dues under $6 a month, I think I'm getting a deal. I have never had more fun than at Mensa gatherings. I have never been a member of an organization that felt more like family than Mensa does. I have never before felt so strongly about an organization that I would post something online in its defense. Mensa is most certainly not a scam.

I hope all of you smart people out there give Mensa a chance. I promise that most Mensans are reasonable people and those who remain active enjoy their membership as much as I do. Hope to see you at a Mensa event soon!
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#5 Consumer Comment

Mensa is complete FUN!

AUTHOR: Rob - (United States of America)

I recently became the leader of my local Mensa group in upstate New York. Mensa is filled with amazing, brilliant, fun, caring, and otherwise wonderful people. Joining Mensa was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My intellectual property law course in law school seemed to imply that protecting intellectual property was a good idea. I imagine Mensa's lawyers felt the same way.

The report describes a bunch of time and money being spent on a protecting Mensa's intellectual property. I assume the person who wrote the report would be in favor of Mensa being less vigorous in its intellectual property protection. The report writer makes the determination that "American Mensa is a complete scam" because Mensa came to a different conclusion on how to handle its intellectual property defense. I couldn't disagree more.

While I don't agree with assertion that Mensa is a scam and I further disagree with the assertion that a particular officer uses her position to have an attorney "harass people she does not like," let's assume that everything he said is true. With dues under $6 a month, I think I'm getting a deal. I have never had more fun than at Mensa gatherings. I have never been a member of an organization that felt more like family than Mensa does. I have never before felt so strongly about an organization that I would post something online in its defense.

I hope all of you smart people out there give Mensa a chance. I promise that most Mensans are reasonable people and those who remain active enjoy their membership as much as I do. Hope to see you at a Mensa event soon!
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#6 Consumer Comment

Fox and the Grapes

AUTHOR: SD Mensa President - (United States of America)

I am the president of the local chapter of American Mensa in San Diego. Our group actively seeks out members of all ages and races.  In fact, 30 percent of our local board of directors is under the age of 40.

As a Mensa member, I'm glad that the organization does not allow others to use the name without permission. It is a prestigious organization and I would hate to think that others were using the prestige of the name to add value their products, which might not be up to our standards.
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#7 Consumer Comment

American Mensa Limited

AUTHOR: Bob - (USA)

I also have been a member of Mensa for many years and find this report to be incongruous with my experiences in Mensa. I am currently on the board of directors and know first-hand that we have a large marketing push toward people under the age of 30.  And, in fact, we've seen a huge growth of membership in that segment. 

We have also focused efforts on recruiting from many cultures.  Mensa worldwide currently has more than 110,000 members with chapters in every corner of the globe - Mexico, India, Japan and South Africa to name a few. 

Because of our growth and worldwide name recognition, we do vigorously protect our trademarks. The Mensa trademark is registered around the world and anyone who uses the mark without permission will be asked to cease use.  Our Name and Logo committee is charged with monitoring unauthorized uses.  That committee's chair is charged by the organization with contacting those who are using our trademark property without permission. 

American Mensa is a membership organization with the purpose of serving our members. 

Our sister organization, the Mensa Education and Research Foundation, awards tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship each year.  Additionally, that Foundation publishes a research journal dedicated to sharing important information on intelligence, publishes free podcasts for the public and hosts www.mensaforkids.org, a Web site dedicated to fostering intelligence in children.

Anyone who would like to know about American Mensa's or the Mensa Education and Research Foundation's financial activities may do so by reviewing our IRS form 990.  These forms are publicly available.

For more information about American Mensa please call 888/294-8035 or go to US.Mensa.Org  
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