Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Temu: America’s favorite app or a big scam?

Molly Curley

If you are on the internet at all, you’ve most likely heard of Temu–  the new shopping platform notorious for their discount codes and suspicious goods. Similar to sites such as SHEIN or Wish, Temu is a Chinese company offering consumers products for suspiciously low prices, sometimes even less than $1. However, the platform has sort of distinguished itself from its competitors. While many similar sites are mostly targeted towards apparel, Temu has diverged to become a consumer favorite. They offer a wide range of products similar to Walmart or Target, earning their mobile app the #1 spot on Apple’s top charts, surpassing even Tiktok or Instagram. 


Although initially I cast this app off as a scam, I decided to look into it after I saw an increasing number of tiktoks on my for you page of people trying to sneak you their codes. Temu is held by PDD Holdings Inc, a company currently headquartered in Dublin after relocating from Shanghai. They hold several similar businesses such as Aliexpress and PinDuoDuo, the Chinese version of Temu. Created in 2015, PinDuoDuo has seen extreme popularity in China with over 700 million users and generating over 19 billion in revenue per year. In 2022, PDD decided to venture into foreign markets and create Temu, meant to be an American offshoot of legendary PinDuoDuo. It has since exploded and has made over six billion dollars in a little over a year of existence. Although these numbers may seem low when compared to their sizeable 130 million downloads as of 2023, it is important to note that Temu has exceptionally low prices that make it hard to believe the website generates a profit. Some items are listed for less than fifty cents. Along with this, they are famous for their code-sharing feature which allows users to rack up credits that they can use to purchase items on the site, not actually having to spend any real money. 


I am ashamed to say that for the sake of this article, I joined those 130 million people and became a Temu user. I was a bit skeptical on my first visit to the website as they were having a “98% off sale” as if everything wasn’t 98% cheaper than it should’ve been already. But when they gave me some fire recommendations, I knew I had to indulge. Temu somehow thought I’d be interested in Graduation bears and some knockoff bapestas which was interesting considering that I had put a pair of real Bapestas on my Christmas list earlier that day.

What Temu thinks I’m interested in.


Although these Kanye-inspired picks were definitely enticing, I eventually decided on a pair of Airpod maxes. These took over two weeks to arrive, although I’ll give it to Temu- they shipped my three dollar headphones free! Talk about customer satisfaction! 

I was very impressed with these headphones. I expected to pull them out of the box and have them either not work, explode, or be doll-sized. Surprisingly, I had no trouble connecting them to my phone. They look sort of close to the real thing and work decently well. I gave them to my brother who owns real airpod maxes to try out and he claims they’re “not that different from his.” Overall a good option for anyone who wants the gym flex but doesn’t have five hundred to blow on headphones. The main difference between Temu and Airpod was that the real ones can be adjusted for a better fit while the Temu ones are stationary. And the obvious difference in quality. But you get what you pay for, and Temu exceeded my expectations with these.


knockoff AirPods 😍

Even with my new purchase, I knew I still had more to do. I needed to figure out how to get free stuff. Thankfully, the Temu app made this very simple and offered a $200 credit for simply spinning their wheel as soon as I downloaded the app. There are more mini games you can play in order to claim more of these credits, all involving sharing your Temu download code at the end. I soon realized why people just spam their codes all over tiktok or facebook marketplace. It is not enough to just use the app. They want as many people to sign up as possible, which is why it is impossible to get any of the free items without at least tens of people signing up. This app thrives off of advertisement more than sales, and this is how its user base has gotten so big within such a short amount of time. In July of this year alone, the app was downloaded 30 million times. Temu has more users than Amazon Prime, the second-highest grossing company in the world. 

It’s pretty obvious that most of the items on Temu are knockoffs from more expensive, popular products. The site is similar to SHEIN in this sense, which has gotten knocked countless times for copying artists’ or small businesses’ work, making users question the ethicality of these sites. PinDuoDuo was banned by google last year for containing malware which brought criticism onto Temu, with users and skeptics afraid that the app was “spying” on them, similarly to skepticism around TikTok. Some have accused these sites of stealing data from users for the use of the Chinese Communist Party. Coupled with a rating of 2.5 from the Better Business Bureau, it is easy to see why some shoppers may distrust Temu. However, cybersecurity analysts have confirmed that Temu is not dangerous to American users. It is “less aggressive” than PinDuoDuo with its tactics. Cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf Labs reported that there have been no reports of “malicious functionality” present on the Temu platform as of May 2023. 

Obviously with Temu, you get what you pay for. You’re not going to get top-of-the-line apple products or high end appliances for the low prices advertised. However, if quality is not in question when making your next great purchase, then it can be a fun website to explore if you want a cheap gift or a great deal. 

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