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The Consumer Advice Center warns against the cheap Temu platform

The Consumer Advice Center warns against the cheap Temu platform

As of: March 26, 2024 at 10:46 AM

Manipulation, deception and greenwashing: There's a whole host of abuses that consumer advocates are now issuing a warning about to Chinese online retailer Temu.

The Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv) has warned the Chinese online retailer Temu. “Temu is worrying and exploiting consumers with seemingly arbitrary discounts, questionable reviews and manipulative designs,” Ramona Pope, president of vzbv, told Funke Media Group Newspapers. “This has to stop.” Temu violates EU consumer protection laws and also practices greenwashing.

One example of this is the use of so-called dark modes: where the app pressures customers with messages like “Hurry! More than 126 people have this item in their shopping cart.” According to vzbv, this has been blocked since the EU Digital Services Act came into force in February. “In Germany and the European Union there are laws to protect consumers that all companies must adhere to,” Bob said.

Timo, for example, practices greenwashing, that is, advertising with false promises about climate or environmental protection, by advertising delivery to the pick-up point rather than to the home as climate-friendly. Most of the products come from China, according to vzbv. Whether the item is ultimately delivered to a pick-up point or home has a minimal impact on the climate footprint.

The next step could be a lawsuit

Overall, the company's entire business model, with its sometimes very high discounts and real-time product reviews, is mysterious and difficult to understand. “Consumers must be protected from such business practices,” Bob told Funke Newspapers. The next step after the warning could be a lawsuit.

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The company behind the app, Pinduoduo, reported annual profits that nearly doubled last week.

Temu is tempted by overpriced deals, but it is also frequently criticized for poor quality, undelivered shipments, and last but not least, the disastrous climate and environmental impact of its products. Many countries are taking action against the app. Two weeks ago, the French Parliament passed a law prohibiting the advertising of cheap clothes and imposing an environmental tax on cheap goods.