What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (2024)

When you're searching through deals and comparing prices, you might be tempted to call it a day and turn to Temu, where you know you'll get the absolute lowest prices on what you're looking for...or a copy of what you want.

Even if you've never ordered anything from Temu, the online shopping site is all around you. Maybe you’ve seen its orange bags on your neighbor’s doorstep. Or you’ve clicked on an Instagram ad featuring an unbelievably cute item. It could be that you've been bombarded by discount codes from someone you follow on social media.

And now you're thinking of filling up a cart on the site, but you don’t know exactly what it is. Let us explain.

What Is Temu?

It may seem like Temu emerged out of nowhere. Ever since its Super Bowl ad—which featured a song that wouldn't stop playing in our heads and factory workers who looked like they had abandoned ship from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou to work for Temu—we’ve been told we could shop like a billionaire. But the company got its start in September 2022, when it launched a barrage of Facebook and Instagram ads.

How Do I Shop on Temu?

Temu is on the web at temu.com and via free apps for Android and iOS.

Why Is Temu So Cheap?

Temu’s prices are indeed shockingly low. So low that they can’t help get your attention and cause you to throw things in your cart. It seems that Temu is trying to attract shoppers as fast as possible, but it's likely selling items at a loss to get that done.

Temu might say on its site that it was founded in Boston, but it's owned by PDD Holdings, which has money to burn and moved its official headquarters from China to Ireland so it can keep doing business even if US scrutiny of China-based apps continues. Temu's low prices and sending purchased items directly to consumers allow it to bypass tariffs, saving it a ton of cash.

More concerning is the issue of forced labor. Temu does not manufacture products itself, instead shipping them from factories in China to consumers. A report from the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party stated "Temu does not have any system to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). This all but guarantees that shipments from Temu containing products made with forced labor are entering the United States on a regular basis, in violation of the UFLPA."

Is Temu a Scam?

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (1)

It's all fun and games (Credit: Temu)

It's a legitimate website, but watch out for lightning deals that promise extra savings. Temu has gamified its site.Pop-ups with wheels to spin for discounts, tokens to collect, and countdown clocks make it seem like time on offers is running out, but they're designed to push customers toward purchases. Sellers on Temu, meanwhile, often steal designs so they don’t have to pay to develop intellectual property of their own.

What Designs Do Temu Sellers Steal?

There are too many to list, but one example is this mouthful of a product description: "Gorgeous Vintage Dragonfly Zircon Pendant Necklace - Perfect Bohemian Jewelry for Women's Holidays." The owner of the online shop Godly Nature’s Jewelry took to TikTok to complain that Temu stole her Champaign Dragonfly Sunflower Necklace design and even her photos.

Does Temu Sell Legit Products?

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (2)

Lip service on the left, the real deal on the right (Credit: Temu/Vaseline)

Temu has an intellectual property policy and told PCMag in a statement, "We strictly require all the sellers to comply with our policies and provide the necessary licensing agreements to list their products on our platform." But browsing through its site, it does not appear to be strictly enforced. Lots of products will be "discontinued," only for similar items to pop up under new listings.

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There are a lot of generic products on Temu but also a fair amount of fakes. Some are obvious, like these little jars of Tsinger lip balms, which are not Vaseline Lip Therapy but at first glance are not not Vaseline Lip Therapy.

You'll also see flat-out designer knockoffs on Temu, such as the Mini Glossy Solid Color Shoulder Bag, which is a poor imitation (but likely a copyright violation) of Jacquemus' Le Chiquito Moyen bag.

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (6)

(Credit: Temu)

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (7)

(Credit: Jacquemus)

Even a video on top-selling bags that Temu produced itself prominently features a knockoff Marc Jacobs tote.

If I Order Something on Temu, Will It Ever Arrive?

This is not Amazon Prime two-day delivery. The site says orders ship in seven to 15 days, but that is not always the case. You'll probably receive credits for future orders the more your order is delayed. When you get a message about the delay, you'll see a button to "urge shipment." Clicking it probably does nothing, but remember: This site is gamified. Temu says that if an order is not shipped within 15 days, it will issue a refund.

Does Temu Accept Returns?

There is a return process on Temu, and shipping is free within 90 days of purchase. Note that's within 90 days of purchase, not receipt of your order.

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (8)

What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (9) What Is Temu? Watch Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire

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What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' (2024)
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