- Temu is legitimate but has its flaws — mainly slow shipping speeds and too many marketing emails.
- I came across lots of strange items to buy on the app, but decided on four for a total of $13.41.
- The saying “it’s too good to be true” does not apply to Temu’s prices, but don’t expect the world.
After purchasing my first items off Temu, I can safely say that I got what I paid for.
The marketplace is legitimate but has its flaws — mainly slow shipping speeds and way too many marketing emails spamming your inbox with “flash deals” begging customers to buy more.
Temu, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is a subsidiary of Chinese commerce company PDD Holdings. It offers a marketplace for merchants, who are mostly based in China, to sell heavily discounted everyday items to consumers — and some wacky ones, too.
The marketplace is often compared to Shein because of its low price points and its connection to China, but to me it’s more similar to Amazon or eBay, as it offers much more than clothing.
Launched in September 2022, Temu largely caters to US customers, but this year has expanded to Canada. The app has also grown in popularity among shoppers looking for huge deals as the cost of living remains high. Temu has been downloaded 24 million times since its inception and has eclipsed 11 million active users, according to Bloomberg.
I was skeptical of buying anything on Temu. With such low prices, it felt like items would be poor quality. I even doubted they’d make it to my home in one piece.
I both scrolled through Temu’s homepage for ideas on what to buy — from “lightning deals” to items under $1 — and searched for everyday items like pens or sponges for washing dishes. When I hit the search bar, Temu additionally listed products that were popular to purchase that day. Like Amazon, Temu also has a category for “weird stuff” customers can buy.
Among the more eccentric items on the marketplace are an extra-strong fart spray, a Donald Trump rubber duck toy, and a pillow shaped like a loaf of bread, each for under $5. As a sneakerhead, I also came across plenty of knock-off Yeezys and Jordans on the platform that are just off in terms of the shape of the shoe and price.
Slow shipping speeds are a buzzkill
I ended up snagging four items. Two of them are more suitable for work: a stack of multi-colored sticky notes and a charging cable that can power USB-C, Micro-USB, and Lightning USB devices. I also ordered a handheld electric blender and a Tupac decorative ornament to display in my living room. These items cost me $13.41, including free shipping.
Temu tries to upsell you at checkout based on your search history and similar items found in your cart, but completing my purchase was simple after rejecting app recommendations. I ordered the items on February 23, and was given a window between March 3 to March 9 to receive them at my New York City home.
The items took two full weeks to arrive, and because they arrived late on March 9, Temu gave me a $5 gift card. Normally, I’d say this isn’t enough cash for the inconvenience, but $5 goes a long way on the app.
I did not pay for shipping, so the long wait time did not affect my feelings about the app too much. I would expect items to arrive faster in the digital commerce world we live in. But I was more eager to see what condition the items would come in.
What was irritating were the dozens of marketing emails that Temu flooded my inbox with after my purchase. Were it not for this article, I would have blocked the company. From the point of purchase to when I actually received the items, I received 30 emails from Temu unrelated to my order, highlighting “Happy Hour” deals or “All $2.98” sales. Nine more have been sent after the delivery was completed by USPS.
My package came in a branded and sealed orange bag, similar to those customers receive when buying clothes from fast-fashion brands like H&M, Shein, and FashionNova.
My package also arrived in my mailbox with a sizable hole in it. For a package that came from overseas, I would have preferred it to arrive in a small box better equipped to handle bumps and bruises along the way.
The electric blender was the best of the bunch
Each item arrived as described on the app, but had at least one drawback.
The sticky notes are sufficient for jotting down reminders or to-do lists for myself, but they aren’t as sticky as traditional Post-It notes. They feel like they’d fall out of a folder or binder while I’m walking.
The three-port charging cable feels good in hand. It does not feel like a cheap wire at all. The issue is it takes too long to charge my devices. I charged my Samsung S23+ for one hour with the cable connected to a wall outlet and it only increased the battery percentage by 32%.
The Tupac ornament, to the manufacturer’s credit, does resemble Tupac. It even features his signature nose ring he wore before his untimely death. But one leg on the ornament is noticeably longer than the other, which makes the item look lopsided when I stand it up.
The best item I ordered by far is the electric blender. It requires two Double AA batteries that do not come in the package, which is disappointing but expected for something that costs $2.18. Yet the blender does pack quite the punch once it is powered on. The packaging also recommends best use cases for the gadget, such as beating eggs, mixing drinks, and blending sauces for desserts or appetizers.
Moving forward, I will keep the Temu app on my phone and scroll through when boredom strikes. But I’d advise others to only order products that they are okay with waiting about two weeks for.
Customers luckily leave plenty of reviews that help shoppers decide what is worth buying. The saying “it’s too good to be true” does not apply to Temu’s prices, but you get what you pay for. Don’t expect the world.
Read more: Everything we know about Chinese app Temu. It sells a weird variety of things for cheap — and has some wondering if it’s legit.