What is the Temu app and is it legit?

Temu app shown on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

"Shop like a billionaire." That's the motto behind Temu, a Boston-based online retailer whose sister company is Pinduoduo, a social commerce platform in China. Temu (pronounced tee-moo) launched in the United States last September, but the company made its first major appearance during a Super Bowl ad earlier this month.

Following the ad, Temu immediately skyrocketed to the top of the iOS and Android app stores. (It remains the number one downloaded free app in the Android App Store). 

Temu's debut ad shows how much potential consumers can save when shopping at its site. For instance, an off-brand woman's dress costs $8.99, whereas wigs sell from $4.99. If those seem like odd items to market in a made-for-TV ad, it's because Temu's catalog itself is eccentric.

A quick browse through the Temu website shows "Lightning deals" on off-brand baseball caps, makeup brushes, credit card holders and iPhone cases. All of the items we browsed sold for under $3.99 each, which appears to undercut giants like Amazon and Walmart. The catch is, these items will likely ship from China.

Temu's website states that it achieves low prices by tapping into "parent company PDD Holdings' extensive network of over 11 million suppliers." That begs the question — is that $3.99 baseball cap really worth it? For more, see what happened when we ordered $50 worth of products from Temu

What kind of deals does Temu offer?

Temu website

(Image credit: Temu)

Temu sells everything from avocado slicers to drone backpacks. We didn't notice many brand names when searching through the site, so you're not going to find cheap iPads or a $300 OLED TV here. Instead, you'll find tons of fashion accessories, apparel, kitchen accessories, men's fashion, and everything in between. 

We found a Nintendo Switch OLED for $284, which is the cheapest price I've ever seen. However, the console is sold by GamePark, which has 37 followers and has sold 216 items total.

That said, we did find a Nintendo Switch OLED for $284. That would be the least-expensive Switch OLED console I've ever seen. Nintendo Switch deals are rare, especially for the OLED console, which I've only seen for as low as $324. However, a little research reveals that the console is sold by GamePark, which has 37 followers and has sold 216 items total. Temu does honor returns and refunds, but you could be rolling the dice with Temu's third-party sellers. (The OLED Switch console has since sold out).

Does Temu offer free shipping or returns?

At the time of this writing, Temu is offering free shipping on all orders. (This promo ends February 22 at 11:59 p.m. PT). You also get free express shipping on orders over $129 and free returns within 90 days. Just note that the first return for every order is free, but you'll then be on the hook for return shipping fees should you want to return other items from the same order. 

You'll also have to be ok with limited tracking updates. If your order is sent from Temu's overseas warehouses, your tracking won't update until your package arrives in the United States. According to Temu's website, standard shipping takes from 7 to 15 business days.

Should  you change your mind about an order or if something arrives damaged, Temu does honor returns and will issue refunds. However, Temu currently has about 129 complaints on the Better Business Bureau website from shoppers who never received their items or received damaged items despite being charged. Most of the complaints have been answered with a formatted reply from Temu, but a Temu spokesperson assures us that all of the cases have been resolved. Temu's overall BBB rating is currently an A-, which is similar to Etsy's rating. 

Temu: Deal or no deal?

It's too early to tell whether Temu will be successful in the United States or not. While it appears many of Temu's products do indeed undercut Amazon's and Walmart's market place prices, Temu is still new to the U.S. market and it has yet to make a significant impression on U.S. consumers. For now, you're probably safer buying from a more experienced retailer or one with third party sellers you may be more familiar with, but we'll be keeping an eye on Temu and will report back as we learn more. 

Louis Ramirez

As deals editor at Tom’s Guide, Louis is constantly looking for ways to avoid paying full price for the latest gadgets. With over 10 years of deals-hunting experience, Louis price checks against multiple retailers and searches high and low for the best deals to bring readers. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Louis is also an avid swimmer and marathoner. His work has appeared on Gizmodo, CNET, and Time Out New York.