EU Policy. EU consumer groups call for DSA probe into Temu

An employee prepares online orders in a distribution center.
An employee prepares online orders in a distribution center. Copyright Ted Shaffrey/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Ted Shaffrey/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Cynthia Kroet
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The Chinese online marketplace would lack information about product safety, among other things.

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The European Consumer Organisation’s network (BEUC) has filed complaints under the Digital Services Act (DSA) with national regulators and the European Commission against Chinese online marketplace Temu for failing to protect consumers and for using manipulative practices, the organisation said in a letter today (16 May).

The signatories – representing some 17 EU member states – claim that Temu breaches the EU’s online platform regulation by failing to provide crucial information to consumers about sellers, making it impossible to verify whether products meets EU safety requirements.

Temu also provides inadequate information about its recommendation systems, and uses dark patterns to get consumers to spend more than they might originally intend, or to complicate the process of closing down their accounts, according to the consumer groups.

“Temu breaches the EU’s new online content law, the Digital Services Act, on all of the above points and must now be investigated by authorities,” the letter said.

“Temu may be taking Europe by storm, but today we want to shine a light on its many illegal practices which are disregarding consumers’ interests and which authorities must rein in,” added BEUC Director General Monique Goyens.

In a response, a spokesperson for Temu told Euronews that it takes the complaint "very seriously." 

"Where we identify areas for improvement, we are eager to work together to enhance our service and to rectify any shortcomings."

The spokesperson added that it works in the interest of consumers and "strives to provide a safe and trusted service that is valued by consumers and adds significant value. We are committed to transparency and full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations."

VLOP

Temu first launched in the US in 2022 but has since expanded to 49 countries, including Ireland, where its European headquarters is based. It offers mostly heavily discounted consumer goods shipped directly from China.

The company recently updated its monthly average user numbers, which is above the 45 million threshold to be considered a Very Large Online Platforms (VLOP) under the DSA. Expectations are that the platform will be designated a VLOP by the Commission in the coming months.

This means that Temu will face stricter rules to fight illegal and harmful content and counterfeit products on its platform. 

In March, the Commission started an investigation into Chinese online marketplace AliExpress, owned by the Alibaba Group, on suspicion of breaches of the DSA. The company might not have taken enough measures to prevent dissemination of illegal content, and to prohibit products that pose a risk for consumers' health such as fake medicines and food as well as dietary supplements, the EU executive said at the time.

That probe is still ongoing.

This story has been updated to include a response from Temu.

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