Euroconsumers’ Temu safety tests underpin importance of major new DSA complaint

Temu has not just ramped up the speed of online shopping but the volume of unsafe products. Safety tests by Euroconsumers members are supporting a major new DSA complaint to European authorities.

Chinese online shopping giant Temu is invading the social shopping scene with a blend of lightning fast product delivery, perks for friend referrals and incredibly low prices that they claim give people the chance to “shop like a billionaire”. 

Since launching in Europe in 2023, Temu has attracted around 75 million monthly active users. Worldwide, its app has been downloaded nearly 46 million times, outpacing the once unbeatable Amazon. But amongst the millions of products shipped each day are some potentially unsafe products. And surely even billionaires deserve to shop safely?  

Testing by Euroconsumers’ member Altroconsumo found evidence of mediocre quality, poorly labeled products made up of harmful materials or ingredients.  

Temu’s high risk toys, make up and tooth product

Altroconsumo analyzed 28 products across categories that they know from experience can potentially present the most problems: children’s toys and equipment, safety helmets and cosmetics.  Here’s what they found:

  • Children’s toys and equipment: All of the 15 children’s products failed to be compliant with at least one of Europe’s product safety rules. Teddy bears and kids’ erasers were not compliant with toy safety regulations which ban the presence of small pieces that can cause choking.  Many items were not properly labeled and in several cases the CE safety marking was missing or fake – something that is enough to get a product withdrawn.
  • Cosmetics: a total of 13 cosmetic products including creams, make-up and dental products, had at least one incidence of non-compliance with EU rules. Most of the products (9 out of 13) lacked the list of ingredients that is required by EU law to make sure certain banned substances stay out of circulation.

Information generally was sparse, there were no batch numbers, no way to contact manufacturers and instructions were impossible to read as they were either too small or not in the country’s language. All of these are legal requirements for cosmetic sales in the EU, as is the correct use of the CE marking which didn’t happen with some items.  

Low prices, low safety and little respect for EU laws 

These failings show a disregard for the European safety standards that all products must meet before being placed on the market. Based on the test results one could wonder whether manufacturers selling on Temu even make any basic checks, or are just counterfeiting safety marks on products that are going straight into consumers’ homes and children’s hands – and Temu is failing to keep them out. Running a big marketplace comes with a lot of responsibility, not in the least securing basic safety for your customers.

Taming Temu: stop breaking DSA rules 

This failure to monitor whether sellers are meeting EU product safety requirements is just one aspect of a major complaint by BEUC on the 16th May 2024 to the European Commission. 

Euroconsumers’ Testachats/TestAankoop, OCU Altroconsumo and Deco Proteste have joined BEUC and 13 European consumer organizations, filing simultaneous complaints with their national authorities on a range of grounds, and supplying evidence for the product safety infringements. 

TEMU meets the criteria for a very large online platform or ‘VLOP’ under the new EU Digital Services Act (DSA), and as such it has to meet stricter obligations to make online content and retail platforms safe and fair for consumers. The complaint asserts that the platform is breaching the Act on a number of points and calls for authorities to investigate:  

  • Failing to provide the necessary information about traders to consumers and is therefore unable to share whether the product aligns with EU product safety requirements. 
  • Providing only sparse information about its recommender systems and how different criteria lead to different promotions of products to consumers. 
  • Using manipulative and deceptive techniques (so-called ‘dark patterns’) to push consumers into spending more than they plan and to make it difficult to shut down their account if they want to leave. 

What’s next for the new breed of superfast social commerce sites? 

Temu and other superfast social commerce sites like Shein have entered a more mature digital marketplace where regulators are onto their tricks and corner cutting and have regulation in place to keep them in check.  Serving the complaint just three months after the DSA entered the books shows how ready consumer groups everywhere are to make sure that consumers are empowered to browse, shop and create in an improved online market.  

Euroconsumers is proud that its long established testing capabilities have helped evidence the failures of Temu to keep consumers safe.  

Euroconsumers members will continue to test and track unsafe products whether they are on sale online or offline. Temu and its competitors should know that no matter how fast the delivery or how low the prices, safety comes first.