In 2023, a new low-cost online store hit headlines and drew in millions of customers worldwide. Temu, a Chinese online marketplace, offers users just about everything, from clothing, to pet accessories, to homeware. But this site has received its fair share of criticism, and there are many scams circulating that are luring customers every day.
So, let’s discuss the top Temu scams and how you can avoid them.
Is Temu a Scam Site?
The Temu website is quite similar to sites like Shein and Alibaba. While a lot of customers have a lackluster experience shopping on these platforms, others leave rave reviews about the products they receive. Temu definitely isn’t a total scam website. If anything, it’s a gamble.
This is because Temu generally sells lower-quality or knockoff products. For instance, you may get a stapler that only works for a few weeks or a t-shirt that’s made of very thin material. Often, you will get a product, but there may be some sort of quality compromise.
If Temu didn’t list products at an incredibly low price, it likely wouldn’t be as popular as it is today. And when we say low, we mean low.
Look at the screenshot above, for example. With wireless Lenovo earphones for just over $12 and a pair of Playstation controllers for less than $20, there seems to be something amiss here. As is often the case when shopping online, it’s worth being cautious if you see products being sold for an incredibly low price.
But we can only speculate so much by just looking at the website. To get a better idea, let’s look at what real customers are saying.
On Trustpilot, Temu has an overall rating of 3.5 stars out of five at the time of writing. This isn’t an outright horrible rating, but leaves something to be desired. So, what are dissatisfied customers saying?
31 percent of the Trustpilot Temu reviews were one-star. Users who left the lowest ratings had a number of complaints, including items never arriving, unprompted refunds, poor quality items, and poor customer service. Among all, it seems that the most common complaints are concerned with items never arriving, and customer service then being of little to no help.
The five-star reviews, on the other hand, take up 49 percent of the total ratings. Customers who had a totally positive experience were mostly happy about the low-priced items and free gifts.
Temu is yet to be accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), so it’s tough to know what the official stance is on its legitimacy. However, there have been many comments left on the BBB website from customers of Temu, a lot of which are negative. The BBB has given Temu a rating of C+, with customer reviews averaging 2.5 out of five stars.
It’s important to note that anyone can sell on Temu, which boosts the chance of scams. You can sign up as a Vendor on the Temu website and then sell your own items, which seems like a great way to make a profit, but also opens the door to malicious actors.
Top Temu Scams and Pitfalls
There are a number of scams and pitfalls to watch out for when dealing with Temu…
1. Shoddy or Non-Existent Items
Two of the biggest complaints given by Temu customers are poor-quality items and items that never arrive.
According to its official website, Temu offers free delivery for most orders to the US (unless you want faster shipping, which will cost you $12.90 if your order is under $129). Temu’s free delivery service takes between five and 25 days, but even this long window has come and gone for many customers, with a good deal of orders never arriving at all.
While most Temu products are incredibly cheap, you still don’t want to be paying money for items you’ll never see.
Out of the first 10 one-star reviews listed on Trustpilot, half of them were regarding delivery issues. Most of these users never received any items, while one only received half their order. So, it seems to be pretty common to run into delivery problems with Temu.
Additionally, Temu has been criticized for its low-quality products.
Of course, there’s very likely a relationship between Temu’s low prices and product quality. While some users receive good products that they’re very happy with, others receive lackluster items that sometimes don’t fit the website product description.
Again, it seems there’s something of a gamble to be taken here. When ordering from Temu, you’ll sometimes receive a hit, and sometimes a miss. It’s very important to acknowledge that the very low prices do come with a caveat, and that’s a lack of reliability.
2. Data Collection
A big concern that many have voiced about Temu is its collection and use of customer data. The same concerns have been raised towards other Chinese companies, including Shein and TikTok. But is Temu really a data risk, or are these just rumors and speculation?
As you can see above, there’s an awful lot of data that Temu claims to collect. This includes:
- Contact information.
- Location information.
- Marketing preferences.
- Payment information.
- Social security number.
- Tax ID number.
- Driver’s license.
- Profile name and picture.
But things don’t stop there. Temu also collects various kinds of third-party data, device data, and even online activity. For instance, Temu can see what network you’re connected to, device performance logs, browser type, CPU usage, and more. Additionally, the company collects data on websites you’ve visited outside Temu, access time and browsing time, as well as whether you have opened or clicked on Temu emails.
However, many claims have been made about Temu stealing customer data. The US has also accused Temu have being a data risk in light of its sister app, Pinduoduo, being suspended by Google due to the presence of malware. According to a CNBC article, the malware was “found to leverage specific vulnerabilities for Android phones.”
However, cybersecurity experts have said they are not concerned about this possible risk.
3. Fake Reviews
Temu reviews are important to consult, but something to watch out for when considering buying an item is fake reviews. When a site has a shady reputation, many prospective customers will head to the reviews to see what previous customers are saying.
Some Temu sellers may post phony reviews to give their business a faux air of legitimacy and reliability. You should consult trusted review websites when considering buying an item on Temu, instead of looking at the website’s own reviews. Even if a seller is very highly rated on Temu, the case may be very different in reality.
4. Phony Refund Claims
Sometimes, Temu users are given refund guarantees prior to purchase, only to be stonewalled by the website when a refund is requested. It’s tough to overcome this hurdle, as the seller can make the claim that they’ll take returns and then simply ignore a buyer when they want to process a return or file a complaint.
Some Temu customers also manage to fully process a refund but have a hard time doing so, be it due to delayed return shipping, poor customer support, and so on.
5. Poor Customer Service
Another big Temu pitfall is its customer support.
While Temu claims to have a 24/7 live chat and robust support center, a lot of users have complained about poor customer service.
Many negative Temu reviews are concerned with the lack of customer support. While Temu does often respond to customer requests, the company does not always fulfill them.
6. Temu-Associated Scams
There are also scams that don’t take place on Temu, but use Temu’s name to lure in victims. This range of scams includes:
- Fake Temu websites.
- Fake Temu login requests.
- Criminals posing as Temu customer service.
- Criminals offering free Temu gifts.
If you do want to use Temu, make sure you’re using the official site, and don’t interact with any Temu communications from shady emails. You could also try getting in touch with Temu yourself if you receive an odd email or DM.
Temu Is a Gamble
While many people rave about Temu, there are also thousands of people who have had an inconvenient or outright awful experience with the marketplace. It seems to be a hit-or-miss retailer, so make sure you take caution when ordering from the site.