What Is Temu? Read Before You 'Shop Like a Billionaire' – PCMag

You've probably been targeted with Temu ads or have a shopping cart full of items you're thinking of buying. Before you click buy, we have some answers about the shopping site that's seemingly everywhere.
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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.
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.
Temu is on the web at temu.com and via free apps for Android and iOS.
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.”
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. 
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.
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.
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.
Even a video on top-selling bags that Temu produced itself prominently features a knockoff Marc Jacobs tote.
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.
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.
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My title is Senior Features Writer, which is a license to write about absolutely anything if I can connect it to technology (I can). I’ve been at PCMag since 2011 and have covered the surveillance state, vaccination cards, ghost guns, voting, ISIS, art, fashion, film, design, gender bias, and more. You might have seen me on TV talking about these topics or heard me on your commute home on the radio or a podcast. Or maybe you’ve just seen my Bernie meme
I strive to explain topics that you might come across in the news but not fully understand, such as NFTs and meme stocks. I’ve had the pleasure of talking tech with Jeff Goldblum, Ang Lee, and other celebrities who have brought a different perspective to it. I put great care into writing gift guides and am always touched by the notes I get from people who’ve used them to choose presents that have been well-received. Though I love that I get to write about the tech industry every day, it’s touched by gender, racial, and socioeconomic inequality and I try to bring these topics to light. 
Outside of PCMag, I write fiction, poetry, humor, and essays on culture.
Read Chandra's full bio
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