FOX59 looks into growing car wrap industry, lack of regulation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A new car industry that allows you to customize your look more easily and without paint is growing in popularity, but FOX59 found that it is hardly, if ever, regulated.

If you've never heard of a car wrap, it's vinyl that is stuck onto your car by technicians to give it a custom look. You can change the color, do accents, or go all out with graphics.

One customer, though, claimed his experience was far from ideal.

Marc Halata is a lawyer who bought a brand new Dodge Charger and wanted to trick it out.

"You see a lot of pictures and examples of people wrapping their vehicle," Halata said.

He didn't know where to start, though, and claims his experience didn't turn out well - so much so, that he's now suing the men who worked on his car.

"My job clearly looked like a hack," Halata said.

He found Poseidon Graphics through Facebook, and his lawsuit claims that the owner, Alexander Thomas, along with a company called It's Rude to Drive Nude, owned by Roger Padgett, didn't do the job they promised and did $4,000 in damage to his car.

Halata took photos of the car after he got it back, claiming the material was warped and stuck on unevenly in pieces along the back bumper. He also claimed that he found knife cuts in the paint, all of which had to be filled in and painted over.

Plus, he said that when the men handed over the keys, his gas tank was empty, the new car had more than 200 miles on it, and it was trashed.

"I’m noticing that it’s filled with garbage, it’s filled with one of the guy’s credit cards, it’s got bills, it’s got socks in it, it’s got dirt in every seat, it’s got tools in the back seat," Halata said.

He later found videos on Instagram that showed the men inside his car, with people he said he'd never met. Those videos show them driving the car, listening to music, and dancing.

"It made me sick," Halata said. "It completely, in my mind, ruined the idea of having a new car."

Around the same time, another customer filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office against Poseidon Graphics, also claiming the men put hundreds of miles on his new car. That case was closed after the company did not respond to the complaint.

FOX59 sat down with Thomas and Padgett, to get their side of the story. They claim they had permission to drive both cars, and called the videos advertising. In both cases, they said the customers were at fault.

"We really do pride ourselves in doing good work. Actually I would say it’s great work, a lot of our customers say it’s great work," Thomas said.

Halata did admit to letting Thomas drive his car back to the shop from a rental company.

Thomas and Padgett claimed Halata changed what he wanted, and wouldn't pay for more material, so they had to piece together scraps on the back of his car. They stood behind the work they did.

"For what he paid for, of course, we went above and beyond," Thomas said.

"I got one bad review out of a thousand, I’d take those odds any day," Padgett said.

That case is still pending in Marion County Court. It got FOX59 looking into the industry, and we quickly found that there is very little oversight.

Two companies, Dream Street Graphics and Shadow Graphix, both in business for more than 20 years, said that car wraps are a rising industry but there is no regulation.

"Unfortunately there’s no entity that governs our profession," Keith Wethington, with Shadow Graphix, said.

We took the problem to the Better Business Bureau, to get their take.

"I would just tell people to check as many resources out there as they can," Central Indiana BBB CEO Tim Maniscalo said.

The BBB doesn't even have a category for car wraps yet, which means if you want to have this kind of work done, you need to do your research.

Companies told us that more regulation would be welcome. Right now, technicians can get certified with the vendors that make the wraps, Avery and 3M, but those companies don't regulate the industry.