Is Temu Legit or a Scam? What You Should Know Before Ordering

Temu is hotter than Amazon right now, but is it legit? Let's take a look and see if if it's safe and why it's so cheap.

Online retailers offering deals is nothing new. In fact, it’s one of the biggest ways technology impacts our daily lives in 2023. However, upstart Chinese-owned digital retailer Temu is selling stuff so cheaply it has bargain hunters worrying it’s too good to be true. Is Temu legit or a scam? That’s the question many shoppers are asking right now, so read on as we bring you up to speed on the viral megastore and what Temu is.

You’ve probably seen Temu ads pop up in your social media feed and Google searches by now, even if you haven’t realized it. Thanks to its rock bottom prices, the retailer’s popularity has boomed since its launch in late-2022 and it’s currently the top shopping app on the iOS and Android app stores, sitting ahead of ecommerce giants like Amazon, eBay and Walmart.

Like Amazon, it sells pretty much anything (legal) you can imagine, just at ludicrously low prices. To use the humble USB cable as an example, you can get an Amazon Basics one for around $10-20, but on Temu you’re talking $2 or $3. That’s why so many people are skeptical of it. Now let’s dive a little deeper and explain Temu and how legitimate it is in the bigger picture.

Temu Primer: Why is Temu So Cheap?

Temu is a super cheap online retailer that sells everything from electronics and clothing to car accessories, garden furniture, and cosmetics.

It’s based out of China, where it’s owned by a company called PDD Holdings. It’s so cheap because its business model sees it working with a network of direct suppliers to offer goods to consumers at wholesale prices, which allows it to undercut the competition. But as we explore more later, it’s also thought that Temu is so cheap because it’s using a “loss leader” strategy where it’s OK with losing money in exchange for market share.

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As well as being ultra-affordable, it has quickly established itself as a global player, with shipping offered to the US, most of Europe (including the UK), Australia, and much of Asia. It has doubled down on its push for international exposure by way of its savvy “Shop Like a Billionaire” marketing campaign, paying for a high profile Super Bowl spot in addition to its regular social media and Google ads.

Of course, that doesn’t make Temu legit and there’s plenty you probably want to know before ordering from it. Now let’s answer the big question: is Temu safe?

Is Temu Legit and Safe To Order From?

That’s the big question and the short answer is yes, Temu is legit. Among other things, this is indicated by the fact it sits atop the iOS and Android app store rankings. An out-and-out fraudulent retailer would have been removed by now, but instead Temu has tens of thousands of positive reviews. It has plenty of negative ones, too, but it’s safe to say that Temu is not a scam.

In fact, it looks just like any other online retailer in 2023, complete with its Temu Credits loyalty and referral scheme. If you order from Temu, it’s likely you’ll get what you paid for. We say “likely” because there’s an element of risk involved in all online shopping, especially when it comes to shipping and the timely delivery of your products.

Based on our research into Temu, the main thing you should be aware of it that its shipping times are much longer than those of Amazon. What you’re getting is, in all likelihood, coming from China, so you won’t be getting it those knock off AirPods the next day – you’re probably looking at closer to 10 days in total, as a general rule of thumb.

Temu Shipping Times and Delivery Reviews

Temu clearly advertises shipping times on individual listing pages and while delays aren’t exactly unheard of, most products are delivered on time – around 80%, based on our experience browsing Temu for lip balm mega savings. It also compensates for late deliveries, according to its website. There are plenty of complaints about Temu on the Better Bureau Business website, but it’s worth noting here that most people who post there aren’t satisfied customers, whatever the company. Along these lines, Temu’s 2.51/5 rating is actually better than that of Amazon, which is a measly 1.16/5 at the time of writing.

Rather than just rely on third-party reports, though, we’ve ordered a car charger from Temu and will update this article based on our experience of the retailer soon.

A final caveat here is that Temu is allegedly losing millions to establish itself in the US and elsewhere. A “loss leader” strategy is when a company accepts not making a profit immediately, as long as it’s gaining market share. It’s a common but risky strategy when businesses first enter a competitive market. While it’s backed by a Chinese tech giant (PDD), that’s not to say it can’t fail, and retailers shuttering have a much more mixed track record when it comes to delivering on promises.

What’s Not Legit About Temu?

Well, that depends on who you ask.

Much suspicion around Temu revolves around the fact its parent company, PDD, also owns Pinduoduo. It’s another global Chinese retailer that specializes in cheap agricultural equipment, but its reputation has been tarnished by a suspension from the Google Play Store over malware and concerns about working conditions after two employee deaths went viral a couple of years ago.

The US government has previously raised concerns over the human cost of Chinese “fast fashion” in general, highlighting that just because Temu is safe, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ethical. It’s doubly true if you believe in supporting independent retailers, as the latest data shows online mega stores like Amazon squeezing smaller ecommerce businesses to the point of collapse.

All of which ties in with broader suspicion in the US over Chinese companies, with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte listing Temu as among the “foreign adversaries” whose apps should be banned on all government issued devices over data privacy fears. With cars tracking their owners sex lives, it’s a fair enough thing to wonder.

Are Temu Products Good Quality?

Sure, though they’re also what you would expect from goods that only cost a few bucks.

Much of what’s for sale on Temu is generic, meaning that while goods might look a bit similar to name brand items, they’re usually not. Unless you get really lucky at TJ Maxx, you probably won’t get a real pair of Nike sneakers for under $50, so don’t expect the same quality.

Where Temu does sell name brand goods, these are designated with a blue checkmark. Beyond that, there’s plenty of cool and useful stuff available on Temu, just don’t expect it to be made by anyone you’ve heard of.

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Written by:
James Laird is a technology journalist with 10+ years experience working on some of the world's biggest websites. These include TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, Lifehacker, Gizmodo and The Sun, as well as industry-specific titles such as ITProPortal. His particular areas of interest and expertise are cyber security, VPNs and general hardware.
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