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Is Temu safe? What you need to know before you shop

Temu offers incredibly low prices on clothing and household items, but a shopper thought the products had a lower quality.
Posted at 6:54 AM, Sep 13, 2023

If you're on social media, you've probably come across ads for Temu. Some items are priced so low, it makes you wonder if it's legit.

Temu is one of the hottest new e-commerce sites.

Lexi Babcook is among many younger people who wonder how safe it is to order from the online retailer.

"It's all over my TikTok, it's all over Facebook, it's everywhere," the college student said.

With so much advertising and so much promotion from TikTok users, Temu has become one of the most downloaded shopping apps in just a year.

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Shopper tests it out

Jennifer Graham Kizer, a writer for the Scripps sites Simplemost and Dontwasteyourmoney.com, gave the site a try.

"It is very similar to Amazon, and yet the prices are so much better," she said.

Kizer told her two teen daughters to place some orders. Her first daughter wanted some clothing.

"She got a cute skirt, and it comes with a shirt for just $12," she said.

But what about the quality?

"It's like something you would see at H&M or Forever 21," Kizer said. "She's 19; it works for her."

Her other daughter ordered a makeup organizer for $34.

"It's big and has all these drawers," she said.

Kizer says some items have a dollar store feel, like a dog leash she bought for just $4.

"It's not sturdy," she said. "I honestly feel I might lose the dog."

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But is it safe to shop Temu?

Another downside: Kizer says many items come directly from China, so an order can take a couple of weeks.

Kizer also wonders about the use of resources to ship all this stuff. She notes in her article, "We must acknowledge the carbon emissions caused by the manufacture and transportation of Temu's many, many products."

But her research found no problem with giving your credit card.

"There's not really a problem, putting yourself at risk," she said.

The Better Business Bureau, however, gives Temu just a "C Plus" rating due to more than 900 complaints in just a year about late deliveries, damaged items and other issues.

But Kizer says it might be worth trying if you go into it knowing you're not buying high-end name brands.

"To be able to open this box and say, 'Wow, I paid less than $100 and got 20 things', was a great feeling," she said.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a briefearlier this year which stated, “Temu’s success raises flags about its business practices.” The report also mentioned accusations of copyright infringement.

The brief also considers platforms like Shein and Temu "fast fashion” platforms. The main business practice concerns which the document addresses are exploitation of trade loopholes, production process concerns, product safety, and the use of forced labor.

Fast fashion is a business model that mass produces in-style trends at a low cost and brings them to consumers quickly while demand is high.

“Temu is the No. 1 downloaded free shopping app in both the Apple app store and Google Play store. They are beating out Shein, Amazon, Walmart,” said Sally Baalbaki-Yassine, a marketing professor at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.  “There are negatives in that people are complaining about product quality, about the things not lasting very long, about not getting what they actually ordered, or when they get something it looks different.”