What is Temu and is it Safe?
Who is Temu – Temu (pronounced TEE’-moo) is an online marketplace operated by the Chinese e-commerce company PDD Holdings Inc. and headquartered in Boston. PDD Holdings, Inc. is a Chinese-based, Cayman Islands-registered company, which also owns Pinduoduo, which is a very popular online commerce platform in China.
What is Temu
Temu is an online marketplace that connects consumers with millions of sellers, manufacturers, and brands around the world with the mission to empower them to live their best lives. Temu is committed to offering the most affordable quality products to enable consumers and sellers to fulfill their dreams in an inclusive environment. Temu was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 2022.
Why not, I mean who doesn’t want to save money?
One of the questions that is always being asked about Temu, is how can it be so cheap. Regardless, of the story that Temu is telling, it ultimately comes down to several factors. The first is, that most everything is made in China, which is ultimately where Temu lives and breathes. Chinese manufacturing labor is super cheap and this means that every product is simply less costly because of the labor costs.
Another thing that most people do not realize is that if you are purchasing a name-brand item such as a remote-controlled drone. The Temu drone looks very much the same as a DJI Mavic, but instead of costing thousands, it costs you well under $100.
How can Temu offer a drone with similar looks and functionality as a DJI drone? For those that aren’t in the know, DJI is a Chinese company, with most everything manufactured in Shenzhen, China. Being manufactured in China, offers several possibilities, such as someone stealing the designs of a DJI drone, or more realistically, the company that manufactures the DJI parts, also manufactures parts for the clone drones. I mean, hell who will notice if we mold another 1,000 blades? This would allow them to sell the clone for much less, without having to waste a single dollar in R&D. R&D and modeling is where all the money is spent.
Here is the name-brand DJI Mavic 2 drone and below that is the E99 Pro K3 clone.
DJI Mavic 2
E99 Pro K3 = Sub $30
So Why All The Negative Publicity?
There are actually several major issues with Temu and the first is how Temu controls, maintains, and secures your personal information and your payment details. There is a class action lawsuit against Temu by their customers. In the suit, it is claimed that the Temu app is not secure and there are problems with safeguarding customers’ personal data, including name, address, email address, phone number, financial information (payment details), and biometrics data (fingerprinting).
However, I personally dispute some of that as well as I was part of the giant Office of Personnel Management (OPM) data breach, where Chinese hackers stole all the data (22.1 million records) that OPM had on federal employees. In many cases, extremely private data such as relative information and details including names, addresses, and phone numbers of any siblings, parents, and grandparents; records like financials and some medical and criminal records as well. So, yeah, they already have all my shit, and they have all my biometrics too.
This leads me to a question about the class action lawsuit and biometric data. Why would Temu have any of your biometric data? The suit claims that fingerprint data was part of what was stolen, but a fingerprint to unlock the app, would not be part of the data that any app should have, that should entirely be inside the device.
I don’t doubt that, as Temu has the most aggressive email campaign I have ever seen. They not only track that you are on the website, and what products you looked at, but they will email you several times a day, with price adjustments and similar products, plus other products in that same category. Let’s say that I like camping gear (which I do) and I was looking at some tent stakes. They will email me when the price is adjusted, as well as send me other camping stakes to look at and other popular camping gear. They make Amazon marketing look like amateurs.
Temu’s parent company owns Pinduoduo, which is a Chinese online retailer with a focus on the traditional agriculture industry. And Google removed the Pinduoduo app from the app store after finding that the app contained malware.
The Temu app on Google Play has over 100 million downloads and 1.32 million reviews.
Since the items on Temu are being shipped directly from the manufacturers in China, Temu can cut out the middleman and ship direct-to-consumer, significantly reducing costs and allowing savings to be passed on to customers.
Playing It Safe
I’m not saying that you should avoid Temu, I mean, your data could be compromised by just about any company, but there are ways you can be safer while using Temu.
- Don’t use the app, use the website in a browser like Chrome, or Edge.
- Use a good ad blocker plugin like uBlock Origin
- Use a good anti-virus
- Make sure Windows is up-to-date
- Pay with Paypal, Google Pay, or Apple Pay
Temu really pushes their app, and I mean PUSHhhhhhhhh. They have games that the prizes can only be won if you use the app, they have discounts only available in the app.
I have made several purchases with Temu, and I have even had a refund. The refund process was super quick and easy no questions asked and the money was back in my account in a couple of days. Everything I purchased was exactly as expected, minus the one item I “returned”. It was supposed to be a kit with 10 items and it was a kit with zero items inside.
We will certainly be seeing more companies like this in the very near future. We will also see Amazon and Walmart stepping up their games to compete at some level.