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If it seems too good to be true, it probably is: Let’s talk Temu

Temu seemed to pop up out of nowhere and has taken consumers by storm – but the latest boycott brings some disturbing news to life.

A person in a green jacket and yellow holding up a smart phone to the viewer that is open to Temu app.

You can’t hardly go anywhere online without seeing an ad for Temu, an ecommerce platform that advertises “shop like a billionaire.” The company even had a commercial during the Super Bowl.

With low prices, like $9.99 for a red evening gown or $4.54 winter coats, Temu is appealing to consumers who are looking for deals among inflation.

Is this app a scam like Wish, which is known for selling counterfeits and under-priced products? Is Temu legit? Here’s what we know. 

What is Temu?  

Temu, pronounced tee-moo, launched last September. Since then, CNN reports that it has been downloaded over 24M times in the US. It has over 11 monthly active users.

The company is based in Boston, but it is owned by China’s PDD Holdings Inc., which also owns Pinduoduo, a popular China-based ecommerce platform.

Temu ships directly from China, which is one way it keeps its prices so low. There are no U.S. warehouses involved, another way to keep prices low. Admittedly, Temu’s products aren’t the best quality, but they usually work for their intended purposes. 

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But when does cheap become too cheap? 

Are the products worth it? 

Unlike Wish, Temu seems to be legit with the actual products arriving as promised. The company has over 1.5M followers on Facebook. Looking through the most recent posts, this writer couldn’t find any complaints from customers. There was one snarky comment, “another wonder product I can’t do without….” It was mostly commenters wanting to share the post with their friends. But that may not be the whole picture. 

On the Boston’s BBB website, Temu has a 1.9/5 rating. It’s had over 134 complaints with a 100% response rating. The app may be getting quite a few complaints, but the company does respond to each complaint. However, some complaints do remain unresolved. In the App Store, Temu has a 4.6/5 rating, with few low ratings. 

Manufacturing conditions questionable

Unfortunately, this doesn’t address the bigger problem with Temu. In 2021, The Business & Humans Rights Resource Centre reported that many people were calling for a boycott of Pinduoduo after the deaths of two workers.

It’s believed that one death was directly related to the inhumane treatment of workers in the company, while the other death was from suicide. Temu guarantees the quality of its products, but that doesn’t mean the products are created in ideal conditions. 

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Supporting Temu could hurt the economy, too

If Temu gets a stronghold in the United States by selling direct to consumers, this could impact Walmart, Amazon, and other retailers. It could force our stores to reduce prices, which will hurt wages, putting more pressure on US manufacturers to reduce prices.

Americans may be looking for bargains, but we could be hurting our own infrastructure by supporting this app. It’s something to think about when you’re tempted to buy substandard products from overseas.

[UPDATE] A representative that works with the Temu PR team submitted the following update, published here in full without any censorship on February 28, 2023:

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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