I tried to return something to Temu. Here’s what happened



David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Let’s get the most important detail out of the way first: If you think you might return something to Temu, save the Temu-branded shipping materials.

Also: Is Temu legit? What to know before you place an order

I’ll talk more about this in a bit, but keep this advice in mind. And with that, let’s get on with our story.

My (failed) Temu purchase

Last month, I found a listing for a handheld gaming console with built-in emulators. The listing said the product came with 27,000 retro games. That sparked my interest, and I thought it would make for an interesting article (i.e., “I bought 27,000 retro games on Temu for $110”).

Also: I bought some off-brand geeky stuff from Temu (and wasn’t mad about it)

Yes, I was aware that the games’ ROM files might not be strictly legal, but I thought that would make for an interesting discussion as well.

So, I placed the order. About a week later, the little console arrived. It’s actually a pretty nice piece of kit. But the promised games didn’t actually arrive on the included micro SD cards.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Yes, there were a variety of emulators for popular retro games.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

And yes, there were folders for game collections from a variety of gaming platforms.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

But all the folders were empty, with the exception of a tiny text file.


David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Unfortunately, Temu tends to remove the listings for products it no longer stocks, and I hadn’t thought to capture a screen grab of the original order listing. So I can’t show you how it was promoted.

One item of note: Yes, I know I could download the ROMs myself from a variety of sources. But I had no interest in hunting down and downloading 27,000 games. I wanted to write about the experience of buying and playing with a cool handheld gaming machine, preloaded with all those retro games directly from Temu. That’s why I didn’t keep the device and curate my own games collection.

Also: Temu vs. Amazon: Which shopping site is best for your buying needs?

Besides, for the first time in about a decade, I have a dedicated PC gaming machine. I am much more interested in putting new games on that machine than on a tiny handheld retro device.

In any case, since the Temu product didn’t meet my needs, I decided to return it.

Initiating a return

To initiate a return, go to the Temu site, click on Your Orders, and click Return/Refund.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

You’ll be asked for the reason you’re returning the item. I answered that my unit was defective because it came with empty game directories. The form asks for photos, so be prepared to have some photographic evidence of the damage or problem that caused you to initiate the return.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Next, you need to specify how you want to ship it back, and whether you want your refund sent to your original payment method or want a Temu credit. At this point in the return process, Temu displays this warning: “You are ONLY eligible for one FREE return for every order!” when returning items via the post office. In my case, I only had one item to return, and our post office is a lot closer than the nearest UPS store. And, in the future, I’ll make sure not to order multiple items in one order.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

I haven’t ordered a ton of items from Temu, and have been reluctant to do so until I found out how good they were about accepting returns and refunding money. I was really curious to see if they’d actually give me my money back, so I requested a refund to my original payment method.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

When we get to the Confirm Refund Method screen, more interesting details begin to emerge.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

First, the company says it will only start the refund process once the product is received and has passed some sort of quality inspection. Getting your money back may take 5-14 days, and up to 30 days. So be prepared to wait for your money.

In the next screen, we learn that products must be dropped off at the shipper within 14 days, and once again are reminded that the products will be inspected at Temu before a refund is issued.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

This brings to mind some interesting questions: What happens if the return doesn’t pass quality inspection? Will Temu return the product to you? Will you be charged for the shipping cost of returning a product to you? Or do they accept all returns, but just tell you that it will be inspected to discourage spurious returns and limit return volume? I did ask Temu these questions, but I got no answer.

Next is the most interesting aspect of doing the return. Note the phrase I enclosed in a red box:


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

It says:

Please note you must pack items in the package the item itself came in, so we know this is our item.

And yeah, that’s why I cautioned you at the beginning of this article to not throw away your Temu-branded packing materials. What happens if you do throw away the Temu-branded packaging? I also asked Temu this, and — as with my other questions — got no answer.

If you’ve ever returned something to Temu without its original packaging, let us know what happened in the comments below.

Sending the package back

Fortunately, I did still have the Temu envelope, so I dutifully packed up the unit in that wrapper and… let it sit for about 14 days on my counter. But let’s count the day I shipped it as “day 1” and see how the return progressed, day by day.

Day 1 – Sending the package

I don’t know why I didn’t send it right out, but I’m guessing it was because I was busy. In any case, it allowed me to test whether Temu would accept a package shipped 14 days after the return was authorized.

Day 5 – Package arrives at Temu post office

Four days later, I got this notice:


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Presumably, the post office they’re referring to is their post office, not mine. About an hour after that notice, I got another message:


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Day 6 – Return accepted, refund issued

And that was that, at least for that day. The next day, I got a notice telling me that my return had reached Temu’s warehouse.


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

A few hours later, I was informed that my return had been accepted and a refund had been issued (although it would take time for the money to get to me).


Screenshot by David Gewirtz/ZDNET

Day 8 – Refunded money hits my credit card

Two days after that, the full amount I originally spent was back on my credit card. Temu had honored their money-back guarantee and given me my money back in full.

Thoughts on the experience

I really can’t complain about the return experience. It took a little over a week from dropping off the package to having my money back. That’s fair, especially when international shipping is involved — and I didn’t have to pay for shipping in either direction.

I am concerned about what happens if you don’t have the original Temu packaging, and what happens if you ship a product back that isn’t accepted for a return. Hopefully, nobody will have a negative experience from those two instances. Perhaps Temu will get back to me and let me know what happens. If they do, I’ll annotate this article and let you know.

Overall, I was a bit annoyed that the product provided wasn’t the product described. But the electronic device was of reasonably good quality, and there were no undue hassles in getting my money back.

Also: How to make money by sharing your favorite Amazon products online

Obviously, your experiences may vary from mine. But so far, I have to say that my experiences with Temu, though it sometimes feels a little risky, have been essentially hassle-free.

While Amazon is still my go-to online retailer of choice, I won’t hesitate to buy items from Temu knowing that a return is possible. I’ll just take care to keep the shipping materials until I’m sure I want to keep my purchase, and buy each item in its own order. That’s my recommendation to you, as well.

What has your experience with Temu been? Have you tried returning something? Will you buy from them again? And, seriously, what is it with Temu’s obsession with wigs? Let us know in the comments below.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack, and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.


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