There is no serious supervision of online stores like Temu: “unfair competition”

From gadgets to football boots, make-up to children’s toys: whatever product you’re looking for online, there’s a good chance that Chinese online store Temu will appear at the top of the search results. The app is very popular, but despite growing criticism of the company’s sales methods and lack of data, online stores from outside Europe are subject to much lighter supervision than their European competitors. This is clear from the tour News hour.

Temu’s appeal lies in its absolute bargain prices. Under the slogan Shop like a billionaire With the help of one-time offers and games of (supposedly) free products, the online store manages to attract adults and children en masse. As in many European countries, Temu is currently the most downloaded app in the Netherlands.

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In addition to this popularity, concerns are also growing: last month, seventeen European consumer rights groups, including the Dutch Consumers Association, filed a complaint against Timo. According to the organizations, the online store does not comply with European law. Timo will use the so-called Dark patternsProhibited technologies that affect consumers. App users also share a lot of data, including additional phone usage. The Young Consumers Association warns: “Free is never free. You are being used as an advertising prop.”

Timo says in the terms that only consumers aged 18 and above are allowed to order the products. But the company does not do age checks and does not warn that the platform is not suitable for children.

At Gravendreef College in The Hague, first-year students are taught about the dangers of timo:

“I will order more, because it is cheap.”

Nicole Stofberg teaches platform economics at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, and came into contact with Timo through her 9-year-old daughter. “My daughter loves crafts and saw a video where she needed a nanoribbon. She found a website where the price of the nanoribbon was discounted from €17 to €1.98. When she downloaded the app, she was able to spin the wheel of fortune and get another 80 percent discount “

It didn’t stop there, says Stofberg: “The producer said that a hundred kids were watching it too and that there were only twenty producers left. She said, ‘Mom, I have to get this app now.’ And I thought: There’s a catch.”

That obstacle turned out to be a python, Stofberg explains. “They use aggressive and unfair practices that get kids addicted. By creating urgency where there is none. By offering rewards, by saying, ‘Thousands of kids have seen this.’ Children are vulnerable to that. As far as I’m concerned, Temu is the vaping sector.” E-Commerce.

Dissuasive fines

Then there is the unsafety of the products. The European trade association for toy manufacturers, Toy Industries of Europe (TIE), has supplied nineteen Temu toys to an independent agency To test. It seems that no one is complying with European rules. “A rattle that can get stuck in a baby’s throat, another rattle that has sharp bells can become loose,” summarizes TIE Director Lars Vogt.

Inadequate product safety oversight in non-European online stores has been a thorn in the side of consumer organizations for many years. “These are really very dangerous products,” says a Consumers Association spokesperson. “It should be checked randomly or systematically. Then there should be deterrent fines.”

But there is no doubt of systematic control, according to inquiries from News hour With various supervisors, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) said: “It is not practically possible to take action against online stores from outside the EU.” “The complicated thing is that the platforms are not responsible for the products that the online stores offer on them.” Therefore, the NVWA can only ask platforms to remove dangerous products.

In addition, companies that produce their goods outside the EU, but sell them within the EU, are subject to fewer rules regarding product safety, sustainability and working conditions. TIE argues that this creates unfair competition, but also creates greater safety risks.

Front row seats for a dime

The European Commission recently took a step: Temu and other non-European web stores will fall within scope Digital Services Lawwhich includes the use of Dark patterns Forbidden. That is why the Consumers Association focuses its complaints on this matter. If Timo is found guilty, the fine could reach 6% of his annual turnover.

The committee also presented a proposal to reform customs rules. Dutch customs Make Today it announced that the number of new products introduced annually has quadrupled over the past five years, primarily due to e-commerce. They believe that the proposals are “insufficient to address the problems surrounding e-commerce.”

But the Consumers Association also believes that consumers should take responsibility themselves. “To be more aware of the chaos that happens on these types of platforms. That we don’t want to sit in the front row on a dime, but we choose quality.”

Timo says the company takes product safety seriously. Most unsafe products will be intercepted before they go on sale. The company also says it will fully comply with stricter European regulations.

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