Temu manipulates its consumers? European associations file complaints

Temu manipulates its consumers? European associations file complaints
Temu manipulates its consumers? European associations file complaints

European consumer associations have filed a complaint against the Chinese e-commerce platform Temu. They accuse him of manipulating Internet users and violating several provisions of the European Union regulation on digital services.

Do you know Temu? In the aisle of Chinese digital shopping platforms at low prices, SHEIN, AliExpress and Wish are already enthroned. But also Pinduoduo, founded in China in 2015, and arrived in Europe in 2023 under the name Temu. Since then, it already has more than 75 million monthly users in the European Union. Including some who came together via consumer associations to file a complaint against the Chinese platform.

Why are consumer associations filing complaints against Temu?

In a press release dated May 16, 2024, the European Bureau of Consumer Unions (which therefore brings together several associations, including UFC-Que Choisir in France) denounced Temu’s practices:

  • This Chinese platform fails to ensure sufficient traceability of traders who sell on it
  • Temu uses manipulative practices such as “dark patterns” and remains opaque about how it recommends products.
  • These violations of EU online content law add to concerns already expressed by consumer groups about the safety of products on sale.

A “dark pattern” or dark UX, which could be translated into French as rigged interface, means a user interface that has been intentionally designed to deceive or manipulate a user. And this, so that he spends more time on it, provides more information, and/or consumes more.

In addition to these rigged interfaces, consumer associations also criticize Temu for selling suspect products in terms of the safety of the materials used and their traceability. Particularly in terms of the use of lead.

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“Illegal practices which disregard the interests of consumers and which the authorities must repress”

Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organization (BEUC), said in the same press release:

“Temu may be taking Europe by storm, but today we want to shine a light on its many illegal practices that disregard consumer interests and which the authorities must crack down on. This online platform is full of manipulative techniques intended to push consumers to spend more on the platform. For example, consumers are offered different, more expensive versions once they click on a particular product, or have to jump through an obstacle course to close their account.

Temu also often leaves consumers in the dark about who they are purchasing their products from. This lack of traceability prevents consumers from making an informed decision or knowing whether a product complies with EU safety rules.

Temu is being complacent here because it violates the EU’s Digital Services Act, which is major new legislation designed to keep consumers safe online. Products sold on marketplaces, whether online or offline, whether European, American or Chinese, must be safe and comply with European law if sold to European consumers. »

It remains to be seen whether this collective complaint, coupled with complaints from several member associations to have even more weight, will cause Temu to change.

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