last posts

What is Temu?

What is Temu?

Temu is an online shopping megastore that offers just about any product you can imagine. You can buy car accessories, clothing, kitchen appliances, electronics, outdoor furniture, power tools, baby clothes, and everything in between. 

Also: I bought some off-brand geeky stuff from Temu (and wasn't mad about it)

Temu's stand-out feature is that many of the site's products are incredibly cheap. You can buy shoes for $15, necklaces for $1, and wireless keyboards for $10. In fact, whatever you can think of is probably on Temu for less than $50.

Temu launched in late 2022 and quickly rose to the top spot in the App Store and Play Store's shopping categories. People found out about Temu from ads and were attracted to the site's low prices. 

Is Temu a legitimate website?

It depends on your definition of 'legitimate'. Yes, most of the products on Temu are real, as in, you will receive them, and it takes about 10 days before they reach your doorstep.

But any tech products you order on Temu are not name-brand unless they have a blue checkmark on their product listing. You can buy items like laptops, smartphones, and tablets, but they're from lesser-known manufacturers.

Last year, an HP representative told ZDNET that the company could not verify that the HP products on Temu were "from an authorized reseller or are authentic HP devices." Since ZDNET's inquiry, there are no products on Temu advertised as HP products.

Some customers say the items they ordered look slightly different than they did on the website or were lower quality than they expected. 

I can't definitively tell you that it's totally safe or unsafe to buy items from Temu. However, I can suggest some safeguards that you should use when buying from Temu and from any other online retailer.

  • If you have an iPhone, consider using the "Hide My Email" feature when you sign up for a Temu account. This feature generates a random email address and will forward messages to your iCloud email. If you are receiving too many spam messages to the hidden email address, you can easily deactivate it.
  • If you don't have an iPhone, I suggest creating a separate email address for websites you don't fully trust or don't want messages from them clogging your real email address.
  • Don't ever link your bank account or debit card to an online retailer. In the event of hacking, your payment information can be compromised. Instead, consider buying and using Visa gift cards, or pay with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal. 

  • What can I expect when I place an order?

Buying items from Temu follows the same formula as buying from any e-commerce site. You find things you like, add them to your cart, then check out. 

However, there is one caveat before you purchase your items: you must have at least $10 worth of items in your cart before you can check out. Temu says the $10 minimum is to cover shipping fees for users who want free shipping.

If your items arrive late, Temu offers a $5 credit for packages purchased with standard shipping. The company will credit you $13 for packages purchased with express shipping that arrive late

In other cases, the items can arrive on time, can be decent or good quality, and can be exactly how they look on Temu's website. Product quality can be unpredictable, which is not so different from offerings on other online stores.

If you receive your items and they don't look like their online listing, or they arrive damaged, or they don't arrive at all, your order is eligible for Temu's Purchase Protection Program. This program guarantees your money back with a full refund if you return your items within 90 days of purchase.  

Item prices on Temu are constantly fluctuating. If you buy an item and it decreases in price after your purchase, you can request a price adjustment. After you request a price adjustment, the difference will be available on your account as a Temu credit within minutes.

Temu was accused by the US government of potential data risks after its sister site, e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, was suspended by Google for containing malware. However, according to CNBC, analysts say Temu is less of a threat, and the risks associated with Pinduoduo were targeted at Chinese users. 

Additionally, the US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party published a report that states Temu does not take the necessary steps to ensure the products on the site comply with the Uyghur Forced Labor Act.

The same report asserts that Temu exploits a US commerce loophole that allows the company to avoid paying tariffs and complying with US commerce laws and regulations.

Are the products on Temu good quality?

Temu is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and has an average rating of two-and-a-half out of five stars. Many recent complaints about Temu on the BBB website say that items never arrived or, if they did, took weeks or even months to arrive. 

On social media, particularly on TikTok, many people are pleased with their Temu purchases. From little gadgets and household items to clothes and shoes, Temu is one of TikTok's popular obsessions. 

I've tried products from Temu, and I encountered minimal problems. Of course, some items are cheaply made, but that's to be expected for a $1 to $3 item. However, generally, the items on Temu are what you would expect them to be.

The answer to this question is a personal one. At ZDNET, we've only tested tech-related items from Temu. One of ZDNET's contributing experts, David Gewirtz, bought a handheld gaming console that claimed to have 27,000 retro games installed on it.

However, upon using the console, David found that none of the games were actually downloaded, and the product listing was misleading. 

Also: I tried to return something to Temu. Here's what happened

I've tested a pair of earbuds and headphones and a wireless keyboard and mouse from Temu, and they all worked as expected. Of course, they were of lower quality, and you could surely find better quality tech items elsewhere.

However, I've purchased many AirPods cases and iPhone cases from Temu and have been pleasantly surprised. The cases are usually of great quality in color, fit, and durability.

So, the best advice we can give you is to stay away from electronics and big-ticket items and go for accessories and little gadgets.

Is Temu a Chinese company?

Temu's parent company is PDD Holdings, a multinational commerce group headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. PDD Holdings owns Temu and its sister company, Pinduoduo. 

However, it's a little difficult to accurately pin down Temu's exact origins. In a February 2023 SEC 6-K filing, Pinduoduo Inc. changed its name to PDD Holdings in a special resolution. The company also moved its principal executive offices from Shanghai, China, to Dublin, Ireland.

The executive office relocation isn't necessarily a red flag, as many tech companies -- including American ones -- move to Ireland because of the country's low corporate tax rates.

Also: I tried 4 tech products from Temu. Here's how it went

Temu says the company was founded in Boston in 2022, but the site's 'About Us' page does not mention its parent company, according to The Washington Post. Temu's Boston office is not a warehouse full of products, but more than likely is the central office that's connected to Temu's other offices worldwide.

According to the Boston Globe, Temu chose to set up camp in Boston partially because of its proximity to Canada, where the company recently opened another office.

Does Temu produce its products ethically?

According to Retail Insider, Temu's reverse-manufacturing model helps the company decrease waste by more accurately gauging customers' desired products. 

Also: You can use your Amazon Prime benefits on other online shopping sites now - here's how

Temu's Third Party Code of Conduct stresses that the company has a zero-tolerance policy for vendors that use forced labor to manufacture products. All Temu vendors must comply with local wage and hour laws, and their working conditions must be safe and non-abusive. 

However, the US House Select Committee's report states that Temu does not have an auditing or compliance program to ensure sellers remain in compliance with its Code of Conduct.

If you're wondering if Temu is environmentally ethical, that's a trickier topic. Sites like Temu, Shein, and AliExpress say they're committed to environmental sustainability by digitalizing the economy, cutting supply chain waste, and offsetting carbon emissions.

Also: Is TikTok Shop safe?

But many of these companies also distribute products containing harmful chemicals that eventually end up in landfills. These companies also claim to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits to fund sustainability initiatives. But how, when, and where these carbon credits help the environment is unclear.

Additionally, the US House Select Committee's report says that Temu does not properly ensure its products are not the result of forced labor. It's illegal to sell items in the US that come from China's Xinjiang region

China's Xinjiang region has a convoluted and violent history between the Chinese government and the Uyghur people. It is common for items manufactured in this region to be the product of forced labor.

Why is Temu so cheap?

According to Temu, the items on the site are so cheap because the supply chain runs directly from consumers to sellers. Without a middleman, Temu can slash prices. However, the exclusive use of third-party sellers raises questions about Temu's ethics. 

Does Temu steal or sell your data?

All e-commerce apps collect data when you create an account and visit the app's home page. This data can range from your precise physical location, address, and device ID, and onto your search history, payment information, and contacts.

Some apps use this data to track you across apps and websites, to understand performance, and to target you with ads.

Some of this data is linked to your identity, and some isn't -- the connection depends on the app you're using. In recent years, people have been increasingly concerned about how their data is being stored, and are wary specifically of data storage by Chinese-based apps.

Also: Is Temu safe? Why its single-layer security should be a red flag to shoppers

According to Temu's privacy policy, the company does not "sell" your data -- for money, at least. But Temu does share your information with shipping affiliates, marketing providers, and consumer research companies, which in turn, makes Temu money.

Temu also "shares" your data with third-party advertising, marketing, and analytics companies to target you with ads. Temu acknowledges in its privacy policy that this transfer of data can be considered "selling" your data under applicable laws.

Although concerns about sharing your data with Temu might be valid, it's important to remember that apps can and do collect and store your data with few limits, as US citizens' user data is not federally protected under a singular law. As a result, data collection remains unregulated in most states. 

Because American user data remains federally unregulated, Temu might access your credit historyWalmart might collect your biometric information (fingerprints, face geometry, and retina imagery), and Amazon might collect your voice recordings when you speak to Alexa.

As Americans' user data is not wholly protected, it's up to the individual to decide how much of their data they want to relinquish -- and which platforms they want to give it to. 

Remember, when you sign up for an account for any platform, you are agreeing to the company's privacy policy. So, Temu is not "stealing" your data if you willingly sign up and purchase items. 

Bottom line: if you don't consent to this kind of data collection, stay away from Temu.

Is Temu a good company to buy from?

Online shopping can be a gamble. Fake reviews are littered across American retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, which damage consumers' trust in online stores.

Packages can be lost in transit, stolen from your doorstep, broken during the shipping process, or your item can show up looking completely different than it did online. 

Temu's standard shipping policy in the US is free, but your items aren't expected to ship for seven to 15 business days. Temu says that if your package never arrives, or you're told it's been delivered but hasn't been, you should contact customer service within 90 days of purchase.


Font Size
lines height