Does Temu manipulate 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 corridor of Chinese digital shopping platforms at low prices, SHEIN, AliExpress and Wish are already on the throne. But also Pinduoduo, founded in China in 2015, and arrived in Europe in 2023 with the name Temu. Since then it already has more than 75 million monthly users in the European Union. Including some who came together through consumer associations to file a complaint against the Chinese platform.

Why do consumer associations file complaints against Temu?

In a press release dated May 16, 2024, the European Consumer Trade Union Bureau (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 the merchants who sell on it
  • Temu uses manipulative practices such as “dark patterns” and remains opaque about how he recommends products.
  • These breaches of EU law on online content add to concerns already expressed by consumer groups about the safety of products on sale.

A “dark model” or dark UX, which could be translated into French as souped-up interface, means a user interface intentionally designed to deceive or manipulate a user. And this, so that you spend more time on it, provide more information and/or consume 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. Especially regarding the use of lead.

“Illegal practices that do not respect 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 ignore 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 when they click on a particular product or when they have to overcome an obstacle course to close their account.

Temu 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 standards.

Temu is complacent in this case because it violates the EU’s Digital Services Act, which is important new legislation designed to keep consumers safe online. Products sold on markets, whether online or offline, European, American or Chinese, must be safe and comply with European legislation when sold to European consumers. »

It remains to be seen whether this collective complaint, combined with the complaints of several member associations which will have even more weight, will lead to change in Temu.

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Source: Madmoizelle

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