Is Temu legit? What to know about the famously cheap shopping app

When it comes to the world of shopping online, there’s one thing most customers have in common: Everyone likes a deal.

Amazon once capitalized on this formula (and some would argue that it still does). But prices there were much lower a decade ago, and with costs rising on everything from gas to groceries these days, people are still looking for a way to save money any way they can.

Now, a new player has entered the ring in terms of online shopping: the ubiquitous Temu app, which was downloaded more than any other on the market in 2023. Sure, it’s clear that shopping on Temu is a cheap thrill, with everything from household items to fashion at immensely discounted prices. But is Temu legit?

The Temu website as of 2022

Bloomberg/Getty Images

What is Temu?

Enter Temu, a website and app launched in Sept. 2022 by Chinese e-commerce company PDD Holdings  . Following in the footsteps of similar Chinese retailers, Shein and Ali Express, Temu allows Chinese vendors to sell and ship their products directly to customers, eliminating the middleman and any fees they might tack on in the process.

As a result, Temu’s prices are startlingly low (one of its taglines is “shop like a billionaire”), with a wide variety of household necessities priced under $5. Women’s fashion also ranges from earrings for less than $1 to clothing starting at less than $10. The retailer also offers free shipping on all orders and free returns for 90 days.

Temu reels new customers in with free goods and Temu coupon codes, as well as advertising heavily on popular social media websites like Facebook and Instagram. Temu also has a credit-earning system through which customers can refer family and friends to earn free items.

While Temu’s aggressive approach also means it’s bleeding money — Financial company China Merchants Securities has calculated that Temu is losing between $588 and $954 billion per year, according to a Wired report from May 2023  — it’s also working, making three times as much as competitor Shein during Dec. 2023 holiday shopping, Bloomberg reported.

Is Temu legit?

Temu’s low prices have caused many to wonder, “Is Temu safe?” or “Is Temu a scam?”

If by safe, you mean that will you will get the items you ordered, most customers report that you do, and remarkably quickly, considering they are being shipped out of China (one to two weeks is the average range on shipping time). However, reports of items never arriving have surfaced. 

As far as the item quality, a large portion of what Temu sells are knockoffs, and as the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. Temu reviews on the Better Business Bureau average a C out of 1,347 reviews, with many angry about delivery time and product quality. However, many others give the company five stars, citing a positive shopping experience.

Is it safe to use my credit card on Temu?

Here’s where we get into the hotly debated area of Temu’s safety. The shopping app collects a lot of the information other websites and social media do: basic information such as name, address, and phone number, your phone or computer’s operating system, your IP address, location data if you allow it, and browsing data.

However, some customers claim that they’ve been hacked after using TemuA class action lawsuit filed in Nov. 2023 also claims Temu collects data far beyond what is necessary for a shopping app and that its app is allegedly “loaded with spyware.”

Does Temu use child labor?

A June 2023 report from the BBC reported that US lawmakers believe there is an “extremely high risk” that Temu’s products could be made using forced labor. Between Shein and Temu, nearly 600,000 packages are shipped to the U.S. on a daily basis, leading to concerns about how the retailer could meet such volume. Lawmakers have similar concerns about fast-fashion retailer Shein, which was also included in their report.

Related: Shein sued by popular rival ahead of U.S. IPO

One loophole the lawmakers believe Temu and Shein could be using is what they consider an exploitation of current U.S. law: packages of a value of $800 or less are exempt from customs duties. 

Temu, much like Shein, claims that it strictly prohibits forced, penal, and child labor; however, it has also said that it is not responsible for third-party sellers using its platform. So, in short, the current answer to this question is unknown. The labor force for any given product sold on Temu could be wildly different from that of the next. 

How to delete Temu

If you’re not feeling so great about having the Temu app on your phone after reading all this, we can’t blame you. The prices are definitely rock bottom, but for some, the risks outweigh the savings. So, if you’d like to delete your Temu account, here’s a guide to how to do that:

From the Temu app

Log into your account.Click on your user avatar at the bottom of the screen.Click “Settings.” Select “Account security.” At the bottom of that menu, you’ll see the option to delete your account.

From Temu.com

Log into your account.Click on your user avatar at the top right of the screen. Click on account security. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click “delete your Temu account.”

Per Temu’s guidelines, the website or app will log you out, and your account will be deleted within seven business days. 

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