Major high street stores have been accused of ripping off shoppers by charging up to 10p for paper carrier bags – despite them being exempt from the new laws brought in last month.
Outraged shoppers have hit out at Debenhams and House of Fraser claiming they are 'cashing in' by charging for paper bags when other high street shops offer them for free.
House of Fraser has said the charge for paper bags had been introduced for 'ethical and moral' reasons, and that all proceeds would be donated to charity.
However, shoppers have taken to Twitter to express their anger at the charge.
Twitter user Jimmy said: 'Absolutely disgusted! Just spent £180 on shoes and you have the audacity to make me pay 5p for a 'cardboard' bag #shocking'
Anthony Bongos added: 'I can't understand why you are charging for paper carrier bags. This isn't the law, is it you cashing in on the law?'
A spokesperson for House of Fraser said: 'We have made the ethical and moral decision to support the introduction of a 5p charge on all plastic and paper bags.'
Shoppers in Debenhams have also reported being charged to paper bags, with some saying they have been made to pay up to 10p.
Suzanne Foley said: '£162 for a suit no suit bags and then get charged 10p for a large bag, what's that all about debenhams!' (sic)
And Martena David added: '£162 for a suit no suit bags and then get charged 10p for a large bag, what's that all about debenhams!' (sic)
But a spokesperson for Debenhams said paper bags should not be chargeable and admitted it was an 'error'.
The spokesperson said: 'In line with recent legislation Debenhams has introduced a charge for plastic carrier bags. Paper bags issued from stores are not chargeable in England but in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland carry a 5p charge.
'We are very sorry if our colleagues have mistakenly charged for paper bags and have highlighted this error to stores to rectify the situation immediately.'
Elsewhere, some Tesco stores have started giving customers free paper bags just weeks after the 5p charge for plastic bags caused chaos around the country.
A London store has been handing out recyclable small bags as an alternative to shoppers just picking up a handful of groceries.
The bags feature the phrase 'love food hate waste'.
The new law does not prevent shops from handing out free paper bags, a source from the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs told the Evening Standard.
'The key thing is encouraging people to reuse bags,' they said.
'The best thing to do is to have a plastic bag in your pocket.
'But clearly paper bags can be recycled and do degrade better than plastic bags, and they won't end up strangling a turtle.'
England was the last place in the UK to introduce the 5p bag charge.
Some supermarkets around the UK where forced to put security tags on baskets and trolleys after shoppers began taking them home to carry their groceries.
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