Is Temu Ethical? What Consumers Need to Know About the Popular Marketplace

When it comes to items that are cheap and trendy, it’s not unusual for consumers to question the quality or ethics.

Rayna Skiver - Author

Jun. 27 2024, Published 12:04 p.m. ET

The "Temu: Shop Like a Billionaire" app shown in the app store on an iPhone screen.
Source: Getty Images

If you’re on TikTok, you’ve probably heard of the popular online marketplace Temu. Users have shown plenty of excitement over the extremely low-cost products — between clothing and random gadgets, there’s always a new item trending.

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However, some consumers have questioned the quality of the products, and the claims might not be unfounded. Is Temu ethical? Keep reading to learn more about the company’s practices, as well as customer experiences.

Is Temu ethical?

An orange, plastic Temu package in front of a cardboard box and light orange background.
Source: Getty Images

When determining if a company is ethical, it’s important to consider factors like transparency, labor practices, and environmental impact. These three components alone can give consumers a good idea of how ethical — or unethical — a business is.

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Generally, an item’s price is based on the materials used and the cost of labor. If a product that typically costs $40 is sold for only a fraction of the price, you might wonder how the company can pay its workers a living wage and if the product is made with high-quality materials.

Temu sells incredibly cheap products. People can find anything from car parts to furniture at a price point that almost seems too good to be true — and that very well might be the case.

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While the brand has stated that it doesn’t condone forced labor, it also doesn’t share information about labor conditions or practices. In fact, as a result of Temu’s business model, the company could import products from the Xinjiang region in China, an area that’s at a high risk for human rights violations, according to Good On You.

As for Temu’s environmental practices and impact, things aren’t looking much better. While the company claims that it’s committed to sustainability and that its partnership with Trees for the Future is “transformative” for local communities, these actions aren’t likely to cause a significant positive impact.

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Planting trees is great, but when you’re a billion-dollar company that encourages and thrives off of excess consumption, it’s a bit meaningless. It’s like if you were to ride your bike to work once but then drive a gas-guzzling SUV every day for the rest of your life while telling everyone you love the environment — it doesn’t make sense.

Is Temu good quality?

A white Temu package with signs of minor damage sitting on the ground.
Source: Getty Images

To price products at such low costs, something has to give. There’s a reason for the high price tags people often see from eco-friendly brands — it’s going to cost more to pay your workers a living wage, create safe labor conditions, and make a sustainable item that uses high-quality materials.

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Even though the company is known for being cheap, people still have certain expectations regarding quality. However, those expectations aren’t exactly being met.

Temu has been accused of misleading customers as to where the products come from and their quality, according to Me Mother Earth. Some people who have purchased items from the company claim that the online description and images did not align with what they received in the mail, leaving them disappointed.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a company with such a rapid production rate to end up with items that are low-quality and short-lived.

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Is it safe to order from Temu?

A close up view of the orange Temu app on an iPhone.
Source: ISTOCK

Like we said earlier, sometimes things just seem too good to be true. Ordering from Temu might save you a few bucks, but it could also cost you.

The company doesn’t have the best reputation — people have complained of missing packages, getting the wrong items, random charges, and a lack of customer service, according to Time.

On the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Temu has an average rating of 2.46 out of 5. Within the last year, there have been over 1,800 customer complaints. The overall theme of people’s experiences can be captured with this single one-star review: “Ordering from Temu is like playing Russian roulette.”

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