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Here's what it's really like shopping on Temu, the viral shopping platform

'Shop like a billionaire'? Our experience was a bit different.

UKRAINE - 2023/03/11: In this photo illustration, Temu, LLC logo seen on a smartphone and on a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Have you shopped on Temu's website or app before? (Getty)

If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday night, then you not only saw the Chiefs defeat the 49ers, Taylor Swift cheer on Travis Kelce and Usher perform an epic half-time show, but you likely also saw a commercial for Temu. Complete with a catchy song and cartoon-like animations, the brand's "Shop like a Billionaire" spots were hard to miss, but the Temu Super Bowl ads also left viewers wondering what is Temu?

Quick overview

What is Temu?

If you hadn't heard of the brand until you saw its commercials, here's the scoop. Temu is an online marketplace that is self-described as "your one-stop destination for affordable items, perfect for home decor, electronic, pet supplies, sports and toy selections." Time reports that it is the "U.S. offshoot of Chinese e-commerce giant Pinduoduo."

Temu offers steep discounts on thousands of products, but most of them appear too good to be true — some items retail for less than $1. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and buy a few things from the website to see how it went.

Temu
Temu's steep discounts bring select items down to less than $1. (Temu)

What is it like shopping on Temu?

Temu's website has thousands of items to buy and new deals happen daily, but the website can get very overwhelming due to the sheer volume of items. While you can find products by clicking on the lightning deals happening on the homepage, you can also browse items via niche category pages (like Wireless Chargers, Hair Care and Men's Sweaters) or by searching for something specific.

I decided to add a cashmere scarf, a leather tote bag and a 3-in-1 wireless charger to my cart to see if these products were really what they were. Spoiler alert: I was extremely underwhelmed.

What is Temu's shipping and return policy?

One positive of the site is that Temu offers free standard shipping on all orders and the first return for every order is free within 90 days, as long as the product is in the original condition. Orders over $129 will receive free express shipping. If your items are delivered late, you can get a $5 credit for standard shipping or a $13 credit for express shipping. For what it's worth, my order total was $51.93. I got free standard shipping and received all of my items in one package exactly one week from the day I placed the order.

The company also offers price-matching: "Temu will provide the price difference if the list price of the item purchased was reduced within 30 days of the purchase." 

Do keep in mind that, while these prices are amazing, there is an order minimum on each purchase. If your cart doesn't meet the threshold, your items won't ship. So no, you can't checkout if your order total is only a few cents.

Are Temu's products too good to be true?

While I received all three of my items in a week, I would tell you to use your best judgment when shopping and here's why.

Let's start with the scarf. The product details listed the scarf's material as cashmere and the sticker on the package I received said the composition was 100% cashmere. However, I have a few cashmere scarves that I've bought from more reputable retailers, and the one I got from Temu felt and looked completely different. While it only cost me around $5, the scarf I received is not very soft and doesn't look like the luxurious cashmere I'm familiar with.

This red scarf is said to be cashmere, but I have my suspicions. The material is extremely thin and not very soft, but the design has earned 4.7 out of 5-stars from over 30 reviews.

$5 at Temu

I also ordered a tote bag that was listed as being made of genuine leather. The product, which comes in various solid colors, is described as being stain-resistant with a polyester lining. But, much like the scarf, I can't confirm if the purse I received is real leather.

While the bag I received looks just like the photo on Temu's website, it feels and looks cheaply made. If you've been on the hunt for a quality bag to wear every day, I wouldn't recommend this one. However, this purse was the nicest item out of the three I purchased from Temu.

Originally retailing for $100, Temu's website says that this bag has more than 20,000 reviews and more than 100,000 have been sold.

$36 at Temu

Finally, I ordered a 3-in-1 wireless charger that is supposed to charge your iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch all at the same time. I first tested out the iPhone part of the foldable mat and can confirm that it worked for me. My phone was held in place with a secure magnet and it worked immediately. However, getting the charger to work for my AirPods was more of a challenge.

When I put my AirPods on the designated spot, it was hard for me to line up the case just right without a magnet to help guide me. I was able to get my AirPods to line up and charge once but I wasn't able to replicate it. I also put my iPhone on the AirPods spot to see if it would charge my phone, and while it did, I had the same issue of having to move my device around several times to get it to line up just right.

Unfortunately, I don't have an Apple Watch so I was unable to test out that portion of the charger.

While this charger did work, it was a bit of a pain having to move my devices around until they sat on the charger just right. 

$20 at Temu

The verdict

After browsing the site, buying a few things and testing them out, I can confidently say that I won't be shopping on Temu in the future. If you see something you like and want to test it out, go for it — but proceed at your own risk.

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.