One of the most popular shopping apps in the world, Temu markets itself as a place where you can “shop like a billionaire,” thanks to amazing deals on thousands of items in dozens of categories.
For this Temu review, we wanted to see whether there’s any truth to that claim. Can you really get premium brands and luxury items for a fraction of their retail price? And are the deals so good that — just like a billionaire — you can shop on the platform without giving a second thought to the cost?
Temu is a legitimate online merchant with hundreds of thousands of products. Much of what it sells is cheap, and you often get what you pay for. There are no luxury brands and few recognizable ones, but you can find Lenovo, Kodak and Philips products. Shipping times are much longer than with many online retailers, because every item on the site is shipped from China. However, shipping is free and you get credit if your delivery is late. You have to be careful of knockoffs and counterfeit products, both of which abound on the marketplace.
- A wide range of very low-cost items.
- Standard shipping is free and comes with a tracking number.
- The app and website are easy to navigate.
- Many items are low-cost because they’re low quality.
- Shipping takes at least a week in most cases.
- Many users report poor communication between Temu and customers.
What Is Temu?
Temu is a Chinese e-commerce platform that launched in the U.S. in September 2022. Since then, its app has been downloaded more than 24 million times, largely due to smart influencer marketing campaigns, a Super Bowl commercial, and more than a bevy of cheap merchandise.
Temu can offer that cheap merchandise because it enables Chinese companies to sell directly to U.S. consumers. It then flies the products from its fulfillment centers in China to the U.S. to be delivered by U.S. delivery services like USPS, UPS and FedEx.
Relying on its existing network, rather than building a new one in the U.S. to serve its American clientele, is a key cost-saving strategy for the company. However, this means packages take longer to arrive after you place your order. While most online vendors can get your order to you within a couple of days, packages from Temu can take 7-15 days to arrive.
In addition, the company offers few brand names and no premium brands. While you can find a limited number of well-known brands on the platform, such as Lenovo and Philips, you’re out of luck if you’re in the market for Nike sneakers or a Weber grill.
The near-absence of brand names also makes verifying Temu’s markdowns difficult.
It’s easy to check prices when browsing items like Lenovo wireless earbuds, and the original price listed by Temu often matches the prices shown by other vendors. However, it’s hard to know if you’re really getting the listed discount when looking at off-brand earbuds.
For example, in the image below, the “TWS MINI Wireless Earbuds” shown — which are fake Apple AirPods — are listed at 71% off the retail price. However, since the product isn’t available anywhere else online (it’s just one of many listings for knockoff AirPods sold under made-up brand names), there’s no way to verify that you’re actually getting a 71% discount.
Can You Shop Like a Billionaire on Temu?
Temu’s marketing slogan is “shop like a billionaire.” It’s obviously tongue-in-cheek, but it implies you can get high-end items on the platform — or at least that you can buy lots of quality stuff cheaply, without having to worry too much about overspending.
So, does Temu allow you to shop like a billionaire?
The short answer is “no.” In fact, we walked away from our research thinking it more closely resembles a dollar store than a luxury boutique.
No, Because Temu Only Offers Generic Brands
Buying direct from Chinese sellers more often than not means buying generic. You won’t find Adidas or Lululemon on Temu; instead, you’ll find brand names you’ve never heard of and that don’t have an online shop of their own. As a general rule, these brands only exist for export — they’re Chinese manufacturers making products specifically to market on sites like Temu, AliExpress and (in some cases) Amazon.
Still, you might be able to shop like the fabulously wealthy if these items are high quality. After all, billionaires aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses. They don’t need the brand name to appreciate the value. Unfortunately, buying from Temu can be a crapshoot. These generic items are just as likely to be duds as they are to be deals.
No, Because There Are Very Few High-Value Items
Temu’s inventory of big-ticket items is lacking. You won’t find even generic brands of laptops, televisions, appliances or furniture. There are a number of reasons for this, but the main one is that in order for Temu’s business model to work, the items need to be simple and cheap to ship internationally.
If you can’t get high-value items on Temu, can you get a lot of stuff without spending a lot of money?
No, Because the Deals Aren’t Very Good
Temu offers a lot of goods for cheap. However, they’re often low quality and not worth the money, even at bottom-shelf prices.
That said, when items aren’t bad, they aren’t always good deals. Below, you’ll find a survey of product prices compared to Temu’s at the time of writing.
In one listing we found, a generic pack of three plain t-shirts on Temu costs $20.68. Here’s a look at similar products some of Temu’s competitors offer.
- On Amazon, you can get six Fruit of the Loom-brand plain t-shirts for $21.48 or five Gildan t-shirts for $19.99.
- At Walmart, you can get a three-pack of Hanes t-shirts for $16.98.
- At Target, you can get a five-pack of Fruit of the Loom t-shirts for $18.49.
Moving into a different category, a generic 6.3-quart air fryer on Temu costs $87.98.
- On Amazon, you can get the same size air fryer for $72.25.
- At Best Buy, sale prices have 6-quart air fryers as low as $39.99.
- At Walmart, similar products cost as little as $45.99.
Finally, an inflatable boat costs $27.78 on Temu.
- On Amazon, you can get the same boat for $15.96.
- At Dick’s Sporting Goods, you can get one for $19.99.
- At Walmart, you can get a similar product for $24.97.
Of course, these are just random examples and they don’t represent the full scope of items or prices on Temu. The point is that while some items are less expensive, others are not. And even when they are, you may be able to get a higher-quality product from a U.S.-based retailer for around the same price.
Knockoffs and Counterfeits
Like many other online vendors that deal in Chinese goods, Temu suffers from prevalent counterfeit and knockoff listings. You have to shop with caution if you’re looking at certain classes of items, such as sneakers, purses and watches, as the product could be a fraud or mislead you through its name, description or appearance.
For example, take a look at the items in the photo below: these are counterfeit Air Jordan sneakers that would retail for hundereds of dollars per pair if authentic.
Temu’s sister company Pinduoduo was accused of hosting sales of counterfeit goods in 2018, prompting it to shut down over 1,000 stores, remove millions of product listings and keep more than 400,000 goods from being listed.
At the time, Pinduoduo’s founder said it was a problem that was impossible to avoid for a new platform. They had the benefit of learning from other platforms’ mistakes, but they’d still have to deal with the issue.
Counterfeits are less common on Temu than they were on Pinduoduo in 2018, but they can still be found easily. For example, it didn’t take long to find a vendor that, while not posing as Samsung, is claiming to sell a Galaxy Watch 3 that is clearly illegitimate.
More common are knockoffs. Again, they’re easy to find, especially if you expect Temu to sell brand-name items. Searches for Fitbit, Chuck Taylors and Yeezys brought up an array of knockoff products.
Overall, Temu seems to be faring better than Pinduoduo did in 2018. However, it’s not free of the issue. Keep a careful eye on the products if you plan to buy from the platform.
Temu Shipping, Returns and Dispute Resolution
Temu gives you free standard shipping on most orders and free express shipping for orders over $129. To do so, the company takes advantage of the suppliers, logistics vendors and fulfillment partners that PDD Holdings Inc., its parent company, has developed over the last decade.
That said, shipping takes a long time compared to other online retailers (7 to 15 days). That’s because the global fulfillment network PDD Holdings Inc. has built doesn’t include a strong distribution network in the U.S. Rather, products ship from overseas to eventually be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, UPS or FedEx.
Temu does offer delivery guarantees, including a refund for damaged or lost goods, real-time order tracking and a credit of $5 on standard shipping or $13 on express shipping if your delivery is late.
To track an order, go to your order, view order details and click “track.” Note, however, that you won’t see a tracking number until the package arrives in the U.S.
Returns should take less time than deliveries. If you’re sending back an order, you’ll send it to a facility in New Jersey or Ontario, Canada, depending on where you live.
Temu allows returns for full refunds of any new and unused item within 90 days of purchase, so long as it hasn’t been personalized with an engraving. Temu can refund you with Temu credit, which takes three minutes, or by giving the money back to your card, which could take 18 days to process.
The first return on any order is free, but you’ll have to pay shipping and handling fees for additional returns on the same order.
Temu Reviews and Reputation
As of June 1st 2023, the Temu app is rated 4.6/5 on the iOS App Store with 210,876 reviews and 4.6/5 with 282,359 reviews on the Google Play Store.
For both versions of the app, positive reviews focus on the low prices, item quality, ease of use and returns policy. Complaints focused the lack of a wishlist feature, spammy notifications, and poor item quality.
Temu has a 2.35/5 rating on the Better Business Bureau website with 442 reviews. The primary complaints are delivery issues, ineffective or incompetent customer service, and poor item quality.
On the delivery issues front, people said their packages weren’t delivered in a timely manner, were marked as delivered when they weren’t, or arrived damaged. For those that weren’t delivered on time, an additional complaint was that there was no communication from Temu regarding delivery status.
Other people complained that they were able to purchase products only to find out weeks later that the items were out of stock.
Several people said the quality of the products they received was less than ideal. Either it was cheaply made or much smaller than depicted in the photos on the website. The latter was noted for clothing as well as general merchandise.
In all complaints that said they reached out to customer service, people reported they could not help them and, at times, directed them to the shipping company for further assistance.
The most significant difference between the Temu app and the website is that the app offers pathways to get free credits, cash or items.
No, Temu is a legitimate company. You are no more likely to get scammed using its platform than you are to get scammed by a seller on Amazon.
You can get free items on Temu by signing up and inviting others to the app or playing games in the app and inviting others.
Yes, you can use certain cash-back shopping apps on Temu, including Honey, Rebatesme and Extrabux.
Temu Review: Summary and Final Verdict
Temu can be an excellent app for purchasing cheap goods, but it can also deliver shoddy products that reflect their price. Buying from the platform is a gamble.
While most items on Temu cost much less than they do on competing sites, some items aren’t as cheap. If you’re considering making a purchase, look at other vendors before buying.
Shipping times can be as long as two weeks, so you won’t know if your purchase is a steal or a dud for quite a while. Moreover, some users have complained that they bought items only to find out later that they were out of stock.
The company’s returns policy is generous, though, allowing for the return of any item within 90 days of purchase for a refund as long as it isn’t engraved. However, unless you’re getting Temu credit, refunds can take up to 30 days to process.
If you’re comfortable with the risk of getting low-quality items and don’t mind the longer shipping times, it may be worth signing up for Temu. Just understand that shopping in the platform almost always means you’re getting generic items, and don’t assume the low prices always represent a good deal.