Temu logo

Launched in the UK in April 2023, shopping app Temu has gone from a platform that no one’s ever heard of to one that’s seemingly ubiquitous in just a year.

It’s not hard to see why.

Huge sums of money has been pumped into advertising while a robust affiliate program that’s open to everyone means “word of mouth” is equally rampant.

And then there are the ridiculously low prices.

You can pick up everything from clothes to homeware for a fraction of what you might find anywhere else, and some products cost just a few pennies.

But there are complaints too, from poor quality products to bad customer service.

So what’s it actually like to shop on Temu?

What is Temu?

Temu, pronounced tee moo, is an online shopping platform much like Amazon or Ebay that allows you to buy directly from manufacturers or retailers based in China.

Its parent company is Dublin-based PDD Holdings, which also owns sister e-commerce brand Pinduoduo.

Temu was actually launched in the US first, in September 2022, and then in Australia and New Zealand in March 2023.

Its UK launch in April 2023 coincided with its debut in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands.

While most users shop via its app, you can also make purchases using its website*.

How does Temu work?

Like any other shopping platform, you’ll need to register for an account to shop on Temu.

For new users, it has generous sign up discounts or free gifts, especially if you’ve been referred by an existing customer.

However, you’ll need to make your first purchase within a relatively short time frame to take advantage of these – some offers expire within a few hours – so it’s worth making a list of the products you want to buy before you sign up.

After you sign up and log in, you can browse and search for different products and add these to your basket. You can even search in different languages.

Once you’re done, just go to the checkout to pay. Temu will accept both credit and debit cards, though you might want to use a credit card for better financial protection.

The products you buy are aggregated in China before being packaged and shipped to you so you’ll get one or two big bundles rather than one from each retailer.

Why is Temu so cheap?

There are a few reasons why Temu is so cheap.

Firstly, the cost of manufacturing in China is relatively low so the prices will be lower anyway.

You’re also buying directly from the manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer in China, which means no middleman in the UK to pay.

There’s also the exchange rate factor.

One pound is the equivalent of nine Chinese yuan, so what would be considered a reasonable price within China would seem cheap in the UK.

Is Temu legit and is it safe to use?

Tacky adverts plus surreal prices mean Temu feels like a scam. After all, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

But despite outward appearances, Temu is legit.

There are however some things to bear in mind when you shop with Temu, such as the occasional poor quality and long delivery time (more below).

Some people have also raised concerns about privacy and issues with malware.

It’s worth bearing in mind that both the Apple App Store and Google Play have stringent checks on the apps they list, so it should be considered safe to use and malware-free as long as it’s downloadable.

You can also check what permissions the app has on your phone, and change these as needed.

Temu does however collect an enormous amount of data on your browsing habits while in the app, which helps it to recommend products to you. 

Again, you can decline some of this data collection in the app.

My Temu experience

I came to Temu via word of mouth.

Like everyone else, I had been bombarded by Temu ads for weeks and disregarded the site as a scam. But after hearing good things from other shoppers, I decided to give it a go.

It’s a clunky, time consuming shopping experience.

The number of retailers was overwhelming, and there were constant pop ups offering additional discounts or promotions.

I bought 33 items in total, split across a couple of transactions, which came to £60.87.

All of these were small household items ranging from ear plugs to storage containers.

I would normally have bought them on Amazon or Ebay, but Temu offered the same items at a huge discount; some things were less than 10% of what I would have paid elsewhere.

There was a long wait for delivery – about 10 days for me – but all of the items arrived within the time frame Temu specified, despite the fact that I was shopping during the Christmas/New Year period.

They were also as described, but five were of poor quality. It was small things, like lids not closing properly on boxes or attachments falling off.

Temu’s delivery and returns policy

Temu offers free delivery on all orders over £10. Within the UK, it uses Evri to make the deliveries.

However, as the items are shipped from China, there’s a longer than usual delivery time.

Temu’s standard delivery time is six to eight business days, which is almost two weeks when you factor in the weekends. It might be even longer during public holidays in China.

Once your order goes through, you’re given a delivery window. And if your order doesn’t arrive on time, you’ll receive some Temu credit as compensation, which can be spent on future purchases.

Temu has a Purchase Protection Program*, which covers things like damaged goods, lost items and orders that don’t match their description. Basically you should be able to get your money back if things go wrong.

For returns, you have 90 days to decide whether you want to return an item.

Your first return is free, regardless of the reason, and is with Evri, Yodel or Royal Mail. If you need to return something else later on you may have to pay for that separately.

Temu gives you 14 days in which to ship your items once you initiate a return, and refunds are made within a few days of the item being shipped.

Getting a refund from Temu

Of course I wasn’t happy with my five low quality items.

I actually started writing a negative review for one of these when Temu suggested via a pop up that I could also request a refund.

I had to submit a lengthy form with photos of the defects, which took a few minutes to do. However, Temu got back to me almost straight away with details of the next steps.

On lower value orders, it simply offered a refund and told me to keep the items.

On more expensive orders, I had to return the items using a prepaid label, but the refund was issued soon after.

The verdict on Temu

Temu hasn’t had great reviews on Trustpilot but for me it’s been a pretty painless experience. 

Some of the products I received were low quality, but getting my money back was quicker and more straightforward than some retailers based in the UK.

I would certainly consider buying from the app again and it seems that since my last purchase, it’s added lots of other product categories.

Temu is also incredibly good at offering you suggested products – things that you didn’t even know you need – so don’t be surprised if you walk away with more than you bargained for.

Finding cheap deals on Temu

Temu is already pretty cheap but unlike other platforms, it’s near-impossible to sort the products to find the cheapest deals.

Instead, you have to shop around and look at the suggested items, which is quite time consuming.

The price difference can be £1 or £2, which is not a lot but can of course add up.

The cheapest items are always where there are multiple retailers offering identical products, like storage boxes.

For items where there are only a handful of retailers, the prices are comparable to what you might pay on Amazon or Ebay.

Temu referral code

If you’re new to Temu, you can get a bundle of coupons worth £100 if you’re referred to the site by an existing user.

Use my referral code by either following this link* to download the app or enter the code aad71639 in the referral box – I’ll get some Temu credit if you do.

As mentioned earlier, some of the coupons expire quickly so make sure you have a list of what you want to buy before you sign up – getting to the £10 threshold for free delivery is surprisingly difficult.