One of the hottest apps right now is Temu, a shopping marketplace with rock-bottom prices and frequent ad banners for "up to 90% off."
The site has risen in popularity after a trendy Super Bowl commercial and numerous viral videos on TikTok and other social media sites. But is Temu a legitimate place to do business?
1. Is Temu Legit? What You Need To Know
In this article, I’ll tell you what to know about Temu, including whether it’s legit or not. I’ll also touch on the controversy linked to the retail site.
In research for this article, I downloaded the Temu app (iOS | Android) to see how it worked and if the deals were as good as I'd heard. I can tell you right now that there is some very cheap merchandise in the Temu marketplace but there may be some sketchy reasons behind that, which we'll get into.
Money expert Clark Howard has also downloaded the app to test the shopping experience and quality of the merchandise.
“I did three orders, which is what I like to do when I test something out,” he said. “And all three items came in as said. The merchandise was as represented and the prices were crazy low. But there are question marks about it.”
2. What Is Temu and Why Is It So Popular?
Temu is an online store and app that sells a variety of items at incredibly low prices shipped from factories and warehouses in Asia. “Most of the goods on Temu are coming from China,” Clark says.
Nonetheless, Temu is extremely popular because of its amazingly low prices. In addition to low prices, Temu claims to offer:
- Free shipping on most orders.
- Free returns within 90 days.
- Free price adjustments within 30 days if the item gets cheaper (restrictions apply).
- Freebies to its loyal customers.
Browsing through the Temu app looking for shoes, I saw not one pair — from boots, sneakers, sandals and slippers — that was over $27, and many were under $20.
Screenshot via Temu app
I also found iPhone cases on Temu, some as cheap as $1.34. Most were lower than $6.
Screenshot via Temu app
3. Can You Get Free Stuff on Temu?
While I haven't gotten anything for free on Temu, the site says that it offers free items to customers who promote the app and website. Like most Chinese tech giants, the platform has gamified the site and app by creating colorful interfaces intended to make the shopping experience fun and easy.
Temu says, "We believe in rewarding our valued customers with fantastic freebies and exclusive giveaways. From birthday freebies to free baby items, free gifts, and special surprises."
There's even a Temu Free Page, which lists a variety of items with a $0 price under them.
4. What Is the Controversy Surrounding Temu?
Along with the cheap prices have come a variety of concerns.
First, there’s the issue of how the platform can offer such great deals, drastically underselling e-commerce behemoths like Amazon, eBay and giant Chinese marketplace Alibaba.
"There are rumors that they have children working for them and that they have people who are enslaved in China working for them," Clark says.
Second, there are numerous reports of poor customer service on bbb.org, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website. Many of the complaints are related to promised deliveries not arriving on time — or at all.
As a result, the BBB has rated Temu with a C– grade and is not accredited, although that doesn't mean as much as you'd think. But it also has 2.55 stars out of 5. Not good.
Third, there are data privacy concerns as revealed in a high-profile class action lawsuit.
Verdict: Is Temu Legit?
Temu is a legitimate marketplace. And yes, you can buy items for less. But before you download the app, it is worth asking, “what is the real cost of doing business with Temu?”
Clark says after ordering from Temu, he saw an increase in spam texts from the retailer.
“I get texts all day long from Temu, and they spam all hours of the day and night.”
But even more importantly, we should consider how Temu produces its goods so cheaply.
“So, know that even though the bargains on Temu are the best you’ll ever see, there are serious ethical questions when it comes to buying from them,” Clark says.
And, for Clark that means opting out.