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Opium Group Privilege Card Gives You the “Privilege” of Getting Scammed

October 26, 2010 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Nightlife  | 28 Comments


In exchange for creating a Bottle Service-opoly on South Beach, The Opium Group offers locals in Dade and Broward counties its “Privilege Card.” Yes, the folks responsible for turning our high-energy mega clubs into overpriced Ultra Lounges – effectively pricing out 98% of residents with its table-and-bottle shtick - has decided to try and make its product a little more appealing. And while this gesture of goodwill to the townies seems like a cool thing to do, it is, in fact, just another line of South Beach BS done to create good PR, while delivering absolutely nothing.



Like a sucker, I applied for the Privilege card when I moved out to South Beach last month. And each week thereafter, I received an email from the Opium Group telling me about all the cool specials I could get if I went to one of its clubs. Cool if, you know, dropping $350 on a Tuesday is your idea of a good time. And, shockingly, 8 weeks after applying for said card it had not yet arrived. No matter, I figured if Opium Group was going to send me the emails telling me to come in, they’d honor the prices they told me.


So I had some friends here from out of town who wanted to do a big South Beach Club night. I felt this might be an opportune time to utilize my newfound “Privilege Card,” since I could not think of another time I could justify paying $300 for a bottle that costs $30 at Walgreens. Cameo had sent me an email offering me a bottle of Belvedere and some Rose Champagne for that price. I called the number on the Email, and after roughly 29 rings the girl who answered told me to call the VIP Host. Whose phone did not even ring, instead telling me I’d reached a voicemail that had not been set up.

I’m no MBA, but I’m thinking it might be a good idea to have a phone that affords your customers a chance to at least leave a message if you’re trying to run a successful business. But what do I know. I’m not running a club that’s shut down three times since 2006.



Since the VIP host seemed to have this pet peeve about people calling him, I instead called a promoter who said he could get me a reservation utilizing my card. He came recommended, and when I showed up at the club he was there. He ushered me inside, where the girl at the door immediately asked me for my Privilege Card.

“You all haven’t mailed it to me yet,” I told her. “I applied two months ago and you haven’t sent it to me. But you do email me, so I thought you would honor the email.”

“I have to scan the card,” she told me.  “There’s nothing I can do.”

“Ok then,” I said. “We’ll go elsewhere.” With that, she went inside, conferred with a manager, and came back out saying they could honor the deal. He just needed an ID and a credit card. Since I was the “host,” like a sucker I again gave them both.

We were escorted to our table on what used to be the dance floor of a South Beach megaclub, now converted to a douchebag staging area. Our waitress immediately came over and showed me a menu. I had no use for her menu.


“I have the privilege card, and you all emailed me offering a bottle of vodka and one of champagne for $300. They told me at the door you would do it.”

“I need your card,” she shouted over the 9th-tier DJ that was spinning that night. Always good when the door manager can’t be bothered to communicate with the waitress.

“He told me they’d do it without it. You emailed it to me, and I was told I could get it.”


With that she left, and about ten minutes later, as my group sat there antsy, she returned telling me that she needed to scan a card. There was nothing she could do. With that, I asked to see a manager. As we waited for the manager, the mixers showed up. So we sat looking at carafes or Orange Juice like it was late-night drunk time at Denny’s. Except we were losing our buzz faster than the club was losing its appeal.

The manager eventually came out, and again, told me I needed a card.


“You emailed me an offer,” I told him, “you really oughta honor it. I live on the Beach, I’m trying to show my guests a good time. You know, to me it just seems like good business to honor an offer you make. If you can’t, I understand. We’ll take our business somewhere else and you can have your table back.”

For some reason, he felt he needed to confer with the waitress before giving me an answer.

“I can do it,” he said. A collective sigh of relief came up from our party. “But you need to buy two bottles. That’s $600.”

“Your offer said 300,” I told him.

“Yes, but you need to buy two.” Upon re-reading the email, it said nothing of the sort. But my $30 go-phone didn’t exactly let me confirm this at the time. I told him we would leave then. He seemed a bit flummoxed, then offered to walk us out. He did, returned my card without charging it, and we left.



Across the street, our friends who had been fighting the Velvet Rope nonsense trying to meet us were at Five Guys. The table they had there cost them about $12.50, and it included all you could drink soda AND a couple burgers and fries. They had also picked up a couple of bottles of liquor, which they were pouring into ketchup containers as makeshift shot glasses. As soon as we walked in, we were all handed a round. We sat at Five Guys and finished out bottles, enjoyed some food, and were actually able to talk. Five Guys VIP, an infinitely better time than it is at Cameo.

We laughed, drank, talked, and had a generally phenomenal time without the pressure and pretentiousness of the sad excuse for a nightspot across the street. It was fun, in the purest sense of the word. We adjourned to Ted’s Hideaway on 2nd Street, got another table there, and drank until it closed at 5. I think nobody spent more than $50 the entire night.

The moral of the story:  Everyone in South Beach associated with a nightclub is full of shit. Even the “legit” people are just trying to lure you in to get you to spend more. If you’re coming here on vacation, I URGE you, ignore the clubs. Leave them for the wannabes and celebrities. The most fun to be had here is in the unlikeliest of places with your closest friends. And by no means, ever, in anywhere owned by The Opium Group.

Related Categories: Miami: Nightlife,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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28 Comments on

"Opium Group Privilege Card Gives You the “Privilege” of Getting Scammed"

Siobhan says:

I got my card after a month, another friends got his in a week, and third friend doesn’t have his 2 months on…re-apply.  When you have it there are no issues and I use mine all the time.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 1:47 PM

Carlos Miller says:

Awesome article!

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 1:48 PM

Glenn says:

You might want to call your credit card company soon, and make sure the club didn’t charge something on your card.  You don’t want a surprise when your CC statement arrives in the mail.  If they charged you something, in addition to telling your CC company about the scam, report them to the AG’s office.  These bait and switch scams need to be stomped out hard.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 1:52 PM

Carlos Miller says:

A couple of weeks ago I went to meet some friends at this new club inside the Four Ambassadors on Brickell. I forgot the name of it.

When I tried to walk in, the doorman informed me that I would be required to purchase a bottle. I told him I was there to meet friends. Three women, in fact.

He insisted I needed to buy the bottle. Then I showed him my Miami Beach 411 business card and I was let right in.

I ended up spending almost $50 in drinks anyway.

I doubt I will go back.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 2:10 PM

fredgarvin says:

Don’t Mess With The ZOHAN!!!!!!!!!!  Great job Matt!!!!!!

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 2:23 PM

Christy says:

Cameo stinks anyway…and yes, you can have a great time in Miami without bottle service!

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 3:38 PM

Jess says:

Where was the promoter in all this mess?

Anyone we know?

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 3:41 PM

Manny says:

I don’t know what this guy is talking about.  He obviously doesn’t know anything about how bottle service works.  Some people should just stick to waiting the lines and entering the club with the rest of the general admission people.  If he applied and never got his card he could always email the name of the bottom of the emails they send out.  The will email back to confirm his address and re-send another card because ive lost mine before and thats how they got me a new one.  I even needed it the same day to go to an event and they let me go in the same day to their office in Miami Beach to pick it up directly there.  Moral of my rant… don’t go where you don’t belong.  If you and your friends think that spending your Friday night or Saturday night at a Five Guys is more fun than going to nightclub then obviously nightclubs are not your thing.  Stick to burgers and fries dude and leave the nightclub for the party people.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 3:45 PM

Glenn says:

Manny - 

You’re in the weeds concentrating on the technical procedure of obtaining a card.  It’s beyond that.  Matt was told by management that they would honor the deal.  See quote below: 
<<...“she went inside, conferred with a manager, and came back out saying they could honor the deal.”....>>

Apparently, their word is no good.  They “up the deal” once you are inside, and do a classic bait and switch. 


Posted on 10/26/2010 at 4:05 PM

Yaniel says:

Manny exemplifies what Matt what Matt usually says about the Miami Club scene. And I tend to agree with him.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 4:21 PM

FredTheCatTravels says:

““Everyone in South Beach associated with a nightclub is full of shit”“

Love the ariticle Matt!

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 4:29 PM

Yansey Valdes says:

I bet you Cameo was offering that deal based on the bottle minimum for the group… he did not mention how many people were getting bottle service with him… its usually 4 people per bottle… more than that and you would have to purchase another bottle… the champagne was complimentary… Cameo also does that special for bdays! buy a bottle and get a champagne free but whats allowed for the bottle is 4 people in total…. you cant bring 15 people with you (example) to vip with one bottle special…. it a shame a misunderstanding like that happened and should’ve been explained clearly but thats no reason to bash a whole chain of clubs! i’ve had plenty of people come in free and have a great time and thank me later! and without having to buy bottles! and with NO PROBLEMS! and i aint full of sh*t either!

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 5:10 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thank you to everyone who liked it. I know we’re a small site here, but you know maybe if more people start writing stuff like this, South Beach can go back to how it was 5-6 years ago. With big clubs that let lots of people in and were all about the party and not the “VIP Experience.”

Manny - Party People? Did you miss the part where I said we were out until 5? I used to go to clubs ALL THE TIME when they weren’t all about bottles and exclusion. Why Miami nightlife used to be sooooo much better than LA. Now the only advantage is the later closing time. I love to party, Manny. I just don’t like to deal with bullshit.

Yansey - The email said NOTHING about any minimums or numbers of people. NOTHING. Further, if the size of our group was an issue, why was I told by multiple people that they could offer it, until it came time to order? Why? Because they assumed we were from out of town and would order anyway and just be upset when we got the bill. But pay anyway. Locals don’t fall for that shit.

Glen - Good call. I will phone my CC bank tomorrow. Thanks.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 9:58 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Oh, and Jess, the promoted was nobody you know but a friend of one of the guys with us. The club lied to him too, so really none of this was his fault.

Posted on 10/26/2010 at 10:24 PM

croatbob says:

another great story of shithouse clubs in south beach. cant stand the freakin places! ive been waitin 2 months for my card aswell and tried to get in without one as ive been waitin and security could give to shits. i used to go out every weekend back in brisbane australia were ppl treat customers with respect not as dollar signs. customer services is very much lacking in the hotel industry in mia. i tend to spend me 300 a week now on travel instead of drinkin. there loss i guess

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 8:58 AM

Chris says:

Matt - I dont frequent Cameo, but I can tell from this article, you are a loser!  Go hang out at Five guys or by yourself with your laptop at Starbucks. If this was twitter, the trending topic would be #Irrevantotheworld

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 10:48 AM

Chris says:

Whoops - meant #irrelevanttotheworld

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 10:49 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

I actually prefer the WiFi at the BK Whopper Bar. Less hipsters and the food is better.

How can you tell I’m a loser? Just curious. Don’t losers lack the requisite amount of friends to even attempt something like this? I don’t know WTF was up with your trending-twitter-whateverthefuck comment either. I tend to try and socialize places outside the virtual world.

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 2:17 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

And coratbob, you are like the 20th person I’ve talked to from another country who is really disappointed by the clubs in Miami. I guess overseas the nice clubs actually let a lot of people, who are all looking to spend money, in their clubs. Why you’d want to run a business that makes a point of keeping customers out may explain why club turnover is so high.

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 2:19 PM

RichieRich says:

Went to Cameo and another Washington Ave. niteclub a few years ago with some discount passes that the concierge at one of the Hotels gave me. Neither club would honor the passes. (they were for that night, so its not like they were expired)So I went across the street to a rock and roll bar with no admission charge. (the one with the airstream trailer inside.)
and had the best time I had all week. The bartenders were all gorgeous and extremely friendly. Not a single attitude in the place.

Posted on 10/27/2010 at 6:17 PM

croatbob says:

Matt Meltzer: clubs back in oz are 5 times the size. some 4 or 5 level with a different dj on each level. 5000ppl at a time are there and the wait is 10-15 max durin peak times and 15 buks entry. no vip shit. great dj’s. cheap drinks. good vibe. they arent pretender bars were most of the patrons can anly afford a few drinks for the whole nite. all these clubs im thinkin are far better renovated then shitholes like mansion. check out via google the met and family night clubs in brisbane australia. both are award winning international nite spots. that will show u what service and the club industry should be like. i guess our clubs are more setup like space altho i havent been there yet

Posted on 10/28/2010 at 7:58 AM

Jess says:

The moral of this story is everyone should only go to Space.

Posted on 10/28/2010 at 8:33 AM

UTS says:

Fine stuff Matt.

Having been conditioned by the old school, I wouldn’t deal with that crap either. They need me more than I need them.

Posted on 10/28/2010 at 8:13 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Yeah, Bob, the clubs here weren’t QUITE like that 5-10 years ago, but much more like it. More like 2 levels, sometimes 3, with about 2-3000 people in there. GREAT times. Still expensive, but actually worth the money.

Any they do need us more than we need them. And they will see when these clubs start shutting down because people tire of the BS.

Posted on 10/29/2010 at 9:18 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Oh, and an update for everyone…

Magically, my Privilege Card showed up in the mail today. Coincidence?

Posted on 10/29/2010 at 9:20 PM

Derrick Abellard says:

Hey Matt, I’d like to say that I use the Privilege card almost every week. I use it at Set, Louis, and Mansion all the time. I haven’t had one problem yet. I do the 3 for $350 bottle specials and 2 $300 bottle specials. Works out great and the deal is amazing. Sorry to hear about your mishap but I wouldn’t of attempted to use the “offer” without the card in hand. They are very serious about it and always match your card to your ID. If you ever try and let a friend use the card, they will confiscate it and you will never own another, be careful.

Posted on 11/07/2010 at 8:38 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

I get that last part, but why send the email if you haven’t sent someone the card? That to me seems unethical. Like making an offer in the email, then denying it when you show up.

Posted on 11/08/2010 at 7:43 PM

Justin Loser says:

This company is an unethical in every way. They allow illegal practices every night they are open for business.  I’m surprised the authorities haven’t cracked down on them.  Their busboys and promoters are all on drugs and sell them too.  Stay away from Opium.  Their is no privilege to be their patrons.  BAN OPIUM 2012

Posted on 01/25/2012 at 2:36 PM

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