The Chinese online marketplace Temu is selling what appear to be illegal weapons, as well as knives and axes that should be age-restricted, an investigation has found.
The UK consumer champion Which? says it discovered listings for batons and folding knives on the site that resembled items banned under UK law.
Its researchers say they were also able to buy age-restricted items such as knives and axes without checks being carried out on how old the purchaser was. Some of the products were extremely cheap, starting from £4.48.
Which? is calling for Temu to improve its checking process, remove dangerous items and hold third-party sellers to account where breaches are found.
Sue Davies, the head of consumer protection at Which?, said Temu, which has been touted as China’s answer to Amazon, “had a surge in popularity in the last 12 months”. She added: “Problems with dangerous products are only going to get worse if new tech giants like Temu continue to be held to weaker standards than high-street retailers.”
Temu was launched in September last year and has since boomed thanks to widespread advertising on social media platforms such as TikTok. In August it recorded close to 38.8m downloads worldwide, and was the most downloaded app in the UK for the year to date.
The products for sale on Temu that Which? researchers believed to be illegal weapons included two folding knives, two knives disguised as key-rings, a survival knife and a baton.
Researchers said several of the items were listed as “self-defence” items and “portable knives”, and they were easily able to find them on Temu by searching simple terms including “weapons”.
The Criminal Justice Act (Offensive Weapons) Order 1988 bans “any knife which has a concealed blade or concealed sharp point and is designed to appear to be an everyday object” and “a straight, side-handled or friction-lock truncheon (sometimes known as a baton)”.
Anyone caught with such an item could face arrest and a prison sentence. The sale of such weapons online means they could easily end up in the wrong hands, Which? said.
In total, researchers identified six weapons they believed to be illegal, and said they were able to buy seven age-restricted products without any checks, but saw dozens of other listings with products that looked as if they could cause harm.
They said they were able to set up several accounts on Temu without being asked for a date of birth, order seven age-restricted items and have them delivered without any age verification taking place at any stage.
Which? researchers said they bought five knives and two axes, all of which can not be sold to anyone below 18 under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
They added that several of the items bought were also inaccurately labelled, including a weapon that was clearly an axe described as a “knife for preparing vegetables”.
A Temu spokesperson said: “Temu is committed to complying fully with relevant rules and regulations in all of the markets that we operate in, and we take all reports of violations very seriously.
“After receiving a complaint of a person under 18 purchasing a bladed article from our platform, we immediately removed all related product listings. We also initiated a comprehensive investigation and review of our processes to further strengthen our safeguards and prevent similar cases from occurring again.”