Is Temu safe?

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With the tagline "shop like a billionaire" Temu has certainly given itself a lot to live up to. Designed to imply that prices are low enough that you can buy whatever you want without feeling the impact on your wallet, the phrase has garnered plenty of interest. Not all opinions have been positive, however, and many have been left wondering about the legitimacy of the site.

The intrigue was heightened by Temu's massive advertising push when it burst onto the scene, and it certainly managed to quickly get a lot of eyes on the platform all at once. This led to what was both a controversial and interesting debut, but the question remains, can it back up the promises it's making?

What is Temu?

Temu is one of the newest discount online retailers to pop up in the Australian market. Having launched in other areas of the world prior to entering Australia, the platform arrived with a bit of a reputation and the response has been quite divisive. It is also arguably one of the most controversial shopping sites circulating at this point in time. Having said that, the continued strength of their advertising push would imply that their customer base is growing.

Safety: Is Temu trustworthy?

Promising low costs and fast shipping, Temu does somewhat live up to its tagline, but that doesn't mean it's all sunshine and rainbows.

Data security

Temu has copped a lot of heat for the data it collects and the fact that its parent company is based in China. In fact, many have argued that the app is designed as spyware rather than an online shopping platform. We won't comment further on the specifics of these claims, as we're not legal professionals in this area. What we will say, however, is that the same can be said for many popular apps.

If you want total privacy, it's probably best to steer clear. Temu requests the same permissions as many other apps, and while this is quite invasive, whether or not it's a red flag is up to the individual.

Product quality and availability

Significant concerns have also been raised about the amount of complaints placed regarding orders never arriving, as well as the quality of goods that do arrive.

In terms of whether or not your order will arrive as described, Temu certainly falls into the buyer beware category, but that's no different to any other bargain basement online retailer. As long as you check the reviews and follow our tips for shopping “like a billionaire”, your order should show up how you're expecting it to. This is still not a guarantee, of course, and it's important to remember that you get what you pay for. 

The platform also offers reasonably fast shipping given the price point, and could be a good choice if you're looking for an extra guarantee in this regard. This is because Temu promotes that it will give customers a credit if their parcel arrives after the stated time, so you usually don't have to worry about when things will arrive.

Pricing: Is Temu legit?

The pricing on Temu may appear too good to be true, but generally the price advertised is what you'll pay. Promises of free items, however, always come with a catch, and can be quite hard to achieve, so take these offers with a grain of salt. The inbuilt games also take a lot of time and effort to get anywhere with, so it probably isn't a good idea to pin your hopes on scoring the massive discounts that it promises.

Having said that, the platform regularly offers discounts which bring pricing down even further than face value, and those can usually be trusted. These discounts are often significant, but it should be noted that they come with a time limit, and are clearly designed to create a sense of urgency and get you to place an order quickly. 

Of course, as is the case with Shein, it’s important to consider the ethics of a platform like Temu. Though the site is new enough not to have too many allegations against it, it likely follows the same rule as all online retailers—that is, for a product to be priced so low, something (be it Temu's workers or the environment) is likely being exploited.

It is also worth noting that Temu has a minimum purchase amount which, in our research, appears to go up with each order, so this is something to be aware of when shopping. The standard initial minimum seems to be $15AUD and it's a good idea to not exceed this too far on your first order so you can get a feel for the types of products you'll be receiving.

Shopping like a billionaire

The most important thing about shopping on Temu is to limit your expectations. While products are generally quite cheap, you certainly get what you pay for. In most cases, expecting high quality goods is going to leave you disappointed, although most items are reasonable.

Products are generally sourced direct from whoever makes them, but there are also plenty of options on the site that appear to be knockoffs of well-known brands. The jury is still out online as to whether these products are genuine, but it is safest to assume that they're not. This way you'll be pleasantly surprised if they are, and less disappointed if they turn out to be fake.

As with any other discount shopping platform, reviews are your best friends and you'll want to check them closely before committing to a purchase. If buying clothing, we strongly recommend checking measurements rather than selecting garments based on size, and choosing a size slightly larger than you need is advisable.

Final word

So, is Temu a scam? That really depends on what you consider a scam to be.

As long as you're OK with sharing the data that the app requires and can grapple with the site's potentially questionable ethics, you can get cheap goods of reasonable quality in a relatively quick timeframe.

There are definitely more security-conscious options out there, but it comes down to personal preference as to whether it's worth having a look at what Temu has to offer.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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