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So I’ve been playing a Mahjong game on my phone periodically when I get a few minutes here and there. My wife, Lisa, loves to rag on me and tell me that it’s a game for 95-year-old women but I enjoy it so I’ll just graciously accept my lumps from her.
But the game does have its share of ads in it that you can’t pay to remove (though I’d probably be too cheap to do so anyway). For the past few months, I have been constantly bombarded with ads that revolve around a shopping app called Temu.
The ads would show all these tremendous savings to be had for all sorts of stuff. Then the slogan “Shop Like a Billionaire” would close out the ad.
All I could picture was Mark Cuban wasting his time shopping for cheap crap on some wacky little app. I’m sure that’s not happening!
The more I saw the ads over the past few months though, the more curious I got (see advertising works, kids!). One day, I finally decided to dig more into it. I’m not the only one who was curious either – Temu has beaten out TikTok and others lately as the most frequently downloaded app in the U.S.
But I needed to know – is Temu legit and are there really savings to be had with it? This turned out to be a fun mission!
Is Temu legit?
If you’re wondering “is Temu legit?”, I can confidently answer that with a “yes.” However, if you’re asking if they’re a solid reputable company, well then there might be more of a discussion on the subject.
At first, I had assumed that Temu was a Chinese company selling cheap products made in China. It turns out that I was only sort of right.
Most of the goods sold and shipped through Temu are, in fact, from China. However, the company is a U.S. company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. That sounds more comforting considering all the privacy drama going on regarding China right now. But that becomes less credible when you find out that Temu is controlled by a Chinese company called PDD Holdings Inc.
Personally, that doesn’t bother me tremendously. I just know that I wanted to be careful with any personal or sensitive information I share with the app. The app itself isn’t using any permissions on my Android phone
I can’t vouch for iPhone users but I would assume it’s the same.
The problem is that the company has a lot of complaints filed through the BBB with a bad reputation…
[The company] is also starting to develop a reputation for undelivered packages, mysterious charges, incorrect orders, and unresponsive customer service.Time – The Truth About Temu, the Most Downloaded New App in America
So, is Temu legit? Yes. Can you be 100% confident ordering from them? Well, I wouldn’t want to bank my life on it and it’s still a newer company (it came about in 2022), but it can still be a lot of fun if you’re careful.
The precautions I’ve taken with Temu
I already talked about the app not using any phone permissions so that’s a good start. However, when I initially signed up, I wanted to be extra careful about what I provided to the company since I didn’t know anything about them.
Disposable email address
So to start with, I used a disposable email address. Usually, when I sign up for anything, I use the built-in ability to do this through my Gmail account. I just append a plus sign after the username of the address and then whatever I’m using it for. So if my Gmail address was [email protected] and I was signing up for a new account at ABC Company, I would tell them my email address was [email protected].
You don’t even have to tell Gmail you’re doing this. You can just make it up on the fly and if ABC Company sends an email, Gmail just ignores the plus sign and everything else up to the “@” sign and forwards it over to you. It works well (except for companies that don’t accept the plus sign in emails when registering) and I use that all the time. Then if I start getting spam or other problems on that disposable email address, I can see who sold me out (damn you, Lending Tree!!), and I can also just block mail to that disposable address.
This time around though, I wanted to be even more careful because I still had the “is Temu legit” question rolling around in my head. So I didn’t even want to provide a masked email address that can reveal my real Gmail address. That’s probably overkill, but there was a service that I’ve been wanting to try out anyway called AnonAddy. It’s a free and open-source service though they do have some additional options that are priced fairly.
Anyway, after creating my account at AnonAddy, I created an alias for Temu that forwards to my Gmail account. Worked like a champ and just like Gmail, I can cut off this address alias if I ever needed to do so.
Virtual credit card
The next thing I did was create a virtual credit card number. Most issuers now let you do this to use for online purchases. They tell you that it’s safer because then you’re not giving out your real credit card number.
That’s fair enough, but personally, I don’t really care because I know that, under the Fair Credit Billing Act of 1974, “If an unauthorized user makes purchases with a credit card, the cardholder’s liabilities are limited to $50.” And in most cases, credit card companies won’t even make you liable for anything at all.
So I’ve never bothered to muck things up by creating a virtual credit card number… until now. Out of privacy concerns and that little voice still unsure and asking “is Temu legit?” at the time, I took the precaution and created a virtual card number with my Capital One Venture X card.
Easy peasy. This was then the credit card number I used when placing my first order.
Treat it like gambling
Here’s the deal – we’ve established you might have concerns with using Temu. Whether it’s the ties to China that bother you or the bad rating on the BBB, it’s ok to not go all-in on something like this. In fact, I think it would be crazy to place monster orders for a ton of stuff from overseas without being aware of the potential for problems.
I’d liken this to gambling. You don’t spend more money than you’d be willing to lose. If a small order I placed would fall off the planet, I’d be disappointed, but it’s not going to be the end of the world. The good thing is that, unlike gambling, you’ll probably wind up winning more than losing!
My experience with Temu has been great!
You might wonder why I’d go through this trouble for a stupid shopping app. Why not just get your junk through Amazon and call it a day?
For me, it comes down to two reasons:
- Curiosity / Fun
Just like anything else, when you cut out the middleman, the price tends to be less. And in a lot of cases, the price is a lot less through Temu.
Although you’re not going to find everything on here that you might order through Amazon or get elsewhere, it’s probably no surprise that most of what we get comes from China anyway. Temu gives Chinese retailers a platform to sell and ship directly to US customers and skip the middleman like Amazon which normally charges the vendor large fees and marks up the prices for us.
Because of that, the majority of the prices you see for goods on Temu will make you raise an eyebrow in disbelief. Yeah, they’re that insanely low. Something that you might see for $5-10 on Amazon might be 68¢ on Temu.
There is a $10 minimum on your order but I’ve only ever seen free shipping on there. I find it funny that there’s always a countdown running down as to how long you can get free shipping… but there seems to always be a countdown running to be able to get free shipping!
On that note, know that Temu might be the king of marketers. Not only were they able to make this one of the most frequently downloaded apps through strong marketing, but they have so many games and promotions going on that it’ll make your head spin. They try to create excitement by having you get “oh-so-close” to winning some type of prize… and then tell you that you can share the app to get more spins or whatever the game task is. It’s actually really genius and they do a great job with it.
A lot of the promos are real though and their new user sign-up bonus can be worthwhile in itself.
For my first order, I kept my total as low as possible. I had a new user credit and they gave me some other deals but I wanted to test the waters by getting pretty close to that $10 minimum. And it was a blast sifting through all the stuff on there!
Have you ever gone to a garage sale or flea market and enjoyed the thrill of finding a good deal for stuff you probably didn’t need but could make use of? Yeah, that’s Temu!
Here’s what I ended up getting for this order:
Some interesting and fun stuff and a few boring things, right? Now here’s where it gets to be weird. You might look at those prices and think, “Yeah, that’s pretty good, Jim.”
But once you consider the sign-up bonus and other credits that they like to give, here was my total credit card charge for these ten items:
$11.52 out the door!!
That includes a set of Lenovo wireless earbuds. I’m not going to pretend these are anything like a $200 set of AirPods or Beats, but they do the job and I’m enjoying them. And to think that these were only part of this $11 order is kind of crazy.
To me, this is pretty hard to believe. These aren’t returns or anything like that – these are new items you’re getting at next-to-nothing costs.
Know this – you’re not getting Amazon Prime or Walmart+ expedited delivery on this stuff. You can expect a couple of weeks before you see your order (though you might get lucky and see it in less time). This first order of mine had a delay, so they notified me that they had given me a $5 credit for a future order. Even so, I got the order in 12 days.
So don’t order anything you’re in a rush to get, but if you want something for cheap that you’re not pressed for time for, Temu might be your BFF!
I decided there were a couple of items I had ordered that I didn’t want. Plus, that gave me an opportunity to test how this would go – would I need to ship them back to China? That seemed like a negative return game for the company.
It was easy to return the items through the app and then it credited me the money back and told me to keep, donate, or throw away the items. Cool, right? I can’t guarantee that will always be the case, but good to know.
And you might also see that one of the items says “partially refunded”. That’s because I noticed something in the app order that said “Request a price adjustment.” It told me that the item had dropped in price by 17 cents and so it then offered to credit that back to my credit card. That’s part of their 30-day price adjustment policy. 17 cents is 17 cents, folks. I got that back on my card within a few days.
I gotta tell you… I placed one more order a couple of days after I received my first one. This time I ordered 8 items and spent a little more (~$17). That showed up yesterday and I’m happy with everything. I actually then placed yet another order last night (~$20) for some art supplies for Faith’s art lessons (and a couple of things for me!).
My daughter, Faith, also signed up and just placed her first order. She’s not one to spend her money but she’s been sitting on several items in her Amazon cart and said that they were tremendously cheaper through Temu. She’s so excited about it!
I’m not one to blow money but I thought this was a fun experiment. I don’t have plans to order anything else from Temu right now. However, the next time that I need to order something and I’m not in a big rush for it, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll look to Temu before Amazon!
30% off your first order with this link! And more!
Because this was so much fun, I went digging into it and was able to set up a partnership with the company to be able to give you a darn good deal!
30% off your first order (that’s much better than the offer I got!)… AND a $100 coupon bundle after installing the app!
Pretty incredible! You’ll automatically get 30% off your first order (up to $25 off).
And then the coupon bundle gives you various discounts, too. Assuming this doesn’t change, it includes:
- $15 off an order over $75 (3 of these coupons)
- $25 off an order over $50
- $30 off an order over $100
All you need to do is sign up through this link:
Or you can signup and then paste the code fav76689 right into the search bar of the Temu app or website. The 30% off is only good for new users though so be sure to take advantage of it right from the start!
Is Temu legit? Absolutely. And if they’re able to continue to improve and grow, companies like Amazon could have a little bit of a concern. Amazon’s got the logistical and convenience factors in its favor for sure, but it hasn’t been the cheapest game in town for a while now. When it comes to prices, Temu could be just what the doctor ordered!
Plan well, take action, and live your best life!
Thanks for reading!!