Temu Is Taking Over, But Is the Shopping App Legit?

A person holds a phone that says Temu against the Temu website.
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The internet can connect us with excellent shopping deals, but sometimes those deals seem too good to be true. Temu, the latest shopping sensation, reached the top of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store and was at one point the most downloaded app in the U.S. The online retailer seems to offer everything at meager prices. But is Temu legit?

Need a portable blender? It’s $5.84. Need a pair of fashionable sunglasses? That will be $1.70. How about a stuffed Capybara plush toy? $3.48. These deals sound great, so we dived deeper into Temu to find out exactly how the site works and whether you should trust your money with the new retailer.

What Is Temu?

Let’s start with the basics: What is Temu?

It is an online marketplace that ships products directly from China to consumers. It is a company based out of Boston; however, its parent company, PDD Holdings, is a China-based organization. Temu’s sister company is the shipping app Pinduoduo and is aimed at the Chinese market.

Similar online marketplaces, such as Wish.com, have also set out to cut out middleman retailers to deliver the lowest prices possible. Rather than third-party sellers purchasing the products and reselling them on Amazon, you can obtain them directly.

The Temu website offers a wide breadth of products, including appliances, smart home gadgets, clothing, lawn and garden supplies, health and household, beauty, musical instruments, toys and games, electronics and pet supplies.

Is Temu a Scam?

Temu is a legit e-commerce retailer from which you can purchase real products. The prices also are real, but it was hit with a lawsuit last year alleging it takes more data from its customers than it discloses and is necessary. The complaint also claims the company does not do enough to protect customer data.  

And while we did find that the Temu app provides free returns within 90 days, there have been negative reviews on the site claiming that packages arrived damaged or delayed. Temu counters these claims by offering purchase protection if you receive an order that isn’t as described, arrives damaged or is lost in the mail.

Temu does have multiple payment options. One option you may want to consider when checking out with Temu is PayPal, as the company offers buyer protection for items that arrive damaged or not as described (or don’t show up at all). You can also use a buy now, pay later service such as Afterpay or Klarna.

How Do I Shop on Temu?

If you choose to use Temu, visit Temu’s website or download the Temu app to your iOS or Android device. Once on the site or app, you can begin shopping.

If you see an item you like, add it to your cart. However, many things available on Temu are limited, either in stock or in time, so check out when you are ready.

While the Temu app does offer free standard shipping, you may need to spend a minimum amount of money before being allowed to check out. Free shipping generally arrives within one to two weeks, but express shipping is available via FedEx, UPS and DHL for an additional fee.

At checkout, you can use a payment service, such as PayPal, which will provide you with an additional layer of buyer protection if anything goes awry. If you wish to pay directly using a credit card, we recommend using a virtual card. Services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are also available.

Temu Tricks and Tips

While browsing Temu, you’ll find that the app attempts to play some of its own tricks and games to get you to make additional purchases. When you open the app, you may be presented with a “bargain,” such as four items for free if you buy eight items. Or, you may be asked to share the app with friends for low prices.

While these offerings may be alluring if you were planning on purchasing several items, they can also quickly get you to spend more than you would have originally — not every deal is good, especially if you spend more.

Temu may try to pressure you into buying a product by saying it is available for only a limited time or that there are just a few items left in stock. So take a moment and consider if you really need that 30.7-inch squid plush toy before you hit the “Buy” button.

A legit free browser extension called Capital One Shopping will scan over 30,000 sites to warn you if you’re about to overpay on a purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why Is Temu So Cheap?

Temu is cheap because it cuts out the middleman, the person who would normally import a product from another country and then resell it to you. When you shop on Temu, you are ordering products directly from China, sometimes from the manufacturer.

Where Is Temu Located?

Temu’s headquarters is in Boston; however, Temu’s parent company is PDD Holdings, which is a China-based company. When you purchase from Temu, your products are generally shipped directly from China.

Is Temu Like Shein?

Temu and Shein are both e-commerce marketplaces that connect shoppers with low-priced goods from China; however, they are focused on different areas of the market. Temu has a much wider selection of products, while Shein focuses primarily on clothing.

Is Temu Better Than Wish.com?

Temu and Wish.com are similar websites, aiming to bring low-cost goods to consumers directly from China. We haven’t found one to be necessarily better than the other; we recommend you browse both sites to see which marketplace you prefer.

Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the extension using the links provided.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer with The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.