Online shopping app Temu offers deals as high as 99% off. Is it safe?

ATLANTA — If you haven’t used Temu yourself, you probably know somebody who has. The Chinese-owned retailer offers mind-bogglingly low prices and incentivizes users to promote the app and recruit family and friends.

But Temu has also been plagued this year by hundreds of consumer complaints over poor quality and shipping delays.

“Most of what we are hearing is quality control or customer service issues,” BBB spokesperson Logan Hickle told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.

Temu burst onto the scene in 2022 and has been one of the most downloaded shopping apps in the country. It’s owned by Chinese-based Pinduoduo, Inc., with a corporate office listed in Boston. Temu says it has more than 100 million customers worldwide.

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“Even my mother is purchasing on it, so it’s not just young people on TikTok. It is expanding to other demographics as well,” Hickle said.

Temu is the number one app in the Apple and Google Play stores right now.

But the BBB has received nearly 1,000 complaints about Temu in the past 12 months.

There are also concerns about data privacy. Temu’s sister Chinese site has had issues with malware in the past year.

Temu’s main marketing assets are its customers, who post about their purchases on social media.

“The reason Temu has really taken off is they encourage people buying items to post on social media and then they’ve incentivized to buy from their link, which they get an award for doing,” Hickle said.


Consumer blogger Andrea Woroch did some “test shopping” with Temu back in May. She ordered a white shelf to organize her children’s arts and crafts supplies. Woroch said the shelf arrived within a week and was exactly what she ordered.

“They’re able to keep prices down because they’re cutting out the middle-man. They’re connecting shoppers directly with wholesalers and manufacturers who are then sending those products out,” Woroch said.

But Woroch believes the company is having trouble keeping up with demand. She’s heard stories about disappointed shoppers.

“The problem isn’t necessarily the quality, although you do want to pay attention to that, too. It’s that they’re having major issues with shipping and delivery,” Woroch said.

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Because of those shipping and delivery concerns, Woroch said shoppers should think twice about relying on Temu for holiday shopping.

“I would say buyer beware, because there are people saying they’re getting good deals, but again, it’s not a guarantee,” Woroch said. ‘If you’re planning to take advantage of their deals for holiday shopping, that would probably be a big no-no.”

Nearly everything on Temu ships from China.

“It doesn’t sit in a warehouse,” said the BBB.

It comes directly from China to your doorstep. “That is how they can get those lower prices but then that’s why there is that longer lead time.”