Temu is a discount online retailer with one of the most popular mobile apps. But posts online say people should avoid using the store. Here’s what we can VERIFY.
Temu, an online discount marketplace, is one of the most popular retail apps on both the Apple App store and Google Play store.
Temu boasts steep discounts of products ranging from clothing to tech. When someone goes to the website, they can spin a virtual wheel to get additional discounts, and coupon codes are shown that can be applied to purchases.
Recently, several VERIFY readers reached out to ask if Temu is a legitimate company that actually fulfills orders. Two VERIFY readers also sent us this Facebook chain message that claims Temu is a “Communist China-based app and site.” Others asked us if the app is tracking user information.
Here is what we can VERIFY about Temu.
Is Temu.com a legitimate company?
Yes, Temu.com is a legitimate company.
WHAT WE FOUND
Temu is a legitimate, registered business in the U.S., the Better Business Bureau says. The company is a seller marketplace that allows people to buy directly from manufacturers in China, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a non-profit, non-partisan group formed by U.S. manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. Temu handles the shipping and logistics.
The direct-to-consumer business model is also how SHEIN, a Chinese company, does business. SHEIN is another site that offers steep discounts on a range of products.
Although Temu is a legitimate company, that doesn’t mean every customer has been satisfied with their shopping experience.
Temu.com has a C+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and according to BBB files, has had more than 1,600 complaints filed against them. Many of the complaints are about the poor quality of products, shipping or the delays people experience in getting a refund for items they didn’t get or items they returned.
Of the 1,738 reviews with the BBB, Temu has 2.4 out of five stars.
Trustpilot, which is another website that collects reviews, says Temu is a “verified company” with 3.4 out of five stars. On Trustpilot, 47% of the reviews were five stars and 33% were one star. Representatives of Temu replied to 99% of the reviews on Trustpilot, the site says.
Is Temu owned by a Chinese company?
Yes, Temu is owned by a Chinese company.
WHAT WE FOUND
Temu is owned by WhaleCo, Inc., which is registered in the U.S. Whaleco is a subsidiary of the publicly traded Chinese company PDD Holdings, which was founded in Shanghai, China. PDD Holdings in early May moved its headquarters from Shanghai to Dublin, Ireland, according to reports.
WhaleCo registered its business in Delaware and Massachusetts in September 2022, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State records.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), there are two listed addresses for Temu; one is a law office in Delaware and the other is an office in Boston, Mass.
“It appears items ordered are typically directly shipped from manufacturers in China and other countries,” the BBB says.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) has also addressed Temu’s ties to China and banned the use of the app in the state due to the ties with “foreign adversaries.” Montana’s ban does not impose penalties on individual users of the app. Instead, the law bans Temu and the other apps from operating in the state. It also makes it illegal for mobile app marketplaces, like the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, to offer the apps within the state of Montana. Gianforte issued a similar ban for the China-based social media app TikTok.
Does Temu collect your data?
Yes, Temu does collect your data. Temu has the same policies as other e-commerce sites, like Amazon, SHEIN and Wish.
WHAT WE FOUND
Some of the information it collects, if provided to Temu:
- Contact data, such as your name, email address and physical or mailing address and phone number.
- Demographic Information
- Transactional data, such as information relating to or needed to complete your orders, including order numbers and transaction history.
- Marketing data, such as your preferences for receiving marketing communications and details about your engagement with them.
- User-generated content, such as profile pictures, photos, images, videos, audio recordings, comments, questions, messages, and other content or information that you generate, transmit, or otherwise make available on Temu, as well as associated metadata. This includes the metadata on when something was created or edited.
- Government-issued identification numbers, such as national identification number (e.g., Social Security Number, tax identification number, passport number), state or local identification number (e.g., driver’s license or state ID number), and an image of the relevant identification card.
- Payment information needed to complete transactions, including payment card information or bank account number.
Temu says it doesn’t sell users’ personal information but it does share that information with entities including affiliates, service providers, payment processors, advertising partners, third parties that may be involved in sweepstakes, raffles and promotions, marketing partners, advisers and lawyers.
Temu also provides user data directly to the seller of the product being purchased.
Temu’s website doesn’t say anything about Chinese authorities having access to a user’s private information. But, the site does have a disclaimer that says Temu “employs a number of technical, organizational and physical safeguards designed to protect the personal information we collect. However, security risk is inherent in all internet and information technologies and we cannot guarantee the security of your personal information.”
PDD Holdings, which owns Temu, also owns Pinduoduo, another online shopping app that is primarily used in China. In March, Google warned users against downloading that app and suspended it from the Play Store on Android phones after malicious software was detected. According to a CNN report, cybersecurity experts said the malware was used to spy on users and competitors of the Pinduoduo app.
No such suspensions have been reported for Temu.
VERIFY reached out to Temu for comment but did not hear back at the time of publication.