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Downturn fuels bargaining spirit -

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Reporter: Barbara Miller

ELEANOR HALL: Well in another interesting corporate move, the Commonwealth Bank is offering home
owners who lose their jobs something of a lifeline by allowing them a break from their mortgage
repayments.

But the Commonwealth's CEO Ralph Norris has acknowledged that this doesn't mean that customers
won't be charged interest over the period - they'll just have it added onto their loan for later.

Nonetheless, it is a recognition of the difficult economic times that such arrangements are
announced publicly.

Reporter Barbara Miller has been out and about in Sydney to find out what other deals are being
done.

BARBARA MILLER: More than ever shoppers are looking for good bargains.

But some are having trouble getting a good deal.

SHOPPER: Because small businesses are affected by this economic fall they want to try save their
money so bargaining is not an option for them.

BARBARA MILLER: So it's become harder to bargain you think?

SHOPPER: It has, it has. Before that it was hard but now you can't, you can't. There is no bargains
now.

BARBARA MILLER: While other shoppers are happy to buy, buy, buy if the Government's paying.

SHOPPER 2: I'm waiting for Kevin Rudd to give me $900 and I'll be back here spending that as well.

BARBARA MILLER: So you're going to spend all of it?

SHOPPER 2: Absolutely. I think it was probably a mistake giving it to some pensioners because my
father in law put it straight into the bank and said he was going to sit on it for a while. So, if
they want somebody to spend I think they give it to people who are really going to spend it.

BARBARA MILLER: Charities are feeling the pinch.

CHARITY WORKER: A lot of people are saying they can't commit to something, I mean we ask for people
to give regularly so that we can plan ahead with what we're doing and a lot of people are saying
they've just had to sell their house or they've recently become... they're made redundant and, yeah,
it's been made more difficult definitely.

BARBARA MILLER: Is it harder these days for you to attract people to come over and even talk to
you?

CHARITY WORKER: Yeah I mean people just aren't in that kind of mindset to be giving to charities
when they have enough to worry about.

BARBARA MILLER: This taxi driver also says business is down.

TAXI DRIVER: There has definitely been a drop in business, I'd say by about 20 to about 40 per
cent. There's much fewer passengers who are requesting to go way out of town. Passengers are quite
happy to go quick runs around town but the big fairs seem to just don't happen anymore.

BARBARA MILLER: That means there's more competition for fewer customers, but there's a delicate
cost-benefit analysis involved in trying to secure them:

TAXI DRIVER: Sometimes I quickly weigh up, it's more worth my time to do, you know like for example
what I call a quicky or a little dodgy, like for example sometimes I might have to like double run
a double line for a passenger standing on the other side.

Obviously I weigh it up and if it's not dangerous if I do it, no I wouldn't, I'd... because I'm
already a careful driver I wouldn't really modify my driving too much.

BARBARA MILLER: And have you been getting a lot of fines lately?

TAXI DRIVER: Definitely, yes. Fines have been up. Police are on my back and rangers are on my back.

BARBARA MILLER: There's a machine in this mall, a 60-second home loan assessment. I'm just going to
try that out here, it's asking what type of property I'm purchasing - I'll say a house or unit. How
would you describe your credit history - excellent I'll say. I'm up to date on a current loan. What
percentage of the property value would you like to borrow - I will say 80 per cent.

I qualify for four loans. So, clearly not too difficult if this is accurate to still get hold of
money in these troubled times.

Some Sydneysiders have been telling ABC 702's James Valentine how they've been saving money,
including using up old food:

VOX POP: And he suggested you use the old fruit and make alcohol.

VOX POP 2: You put your nose in it and smell it, put your finger in it and taste it, if it tastes
off, it smells off well then you get rid of it.

VOX POP 3: Sunday morning my wife and I had sour cream on toast that was about a month over due. We
thought it was cream cheese.

VOX POP 4: Anyway my husband did his own tooth extraction. He's a builder, he had the tools on the
job, out came the pliers and out came the tooth.

BARBARA MILLER: When things get really tough this man finds it helpful to look at the bigger
picture:

VOX POP 5: Yeah I'm a bit of a talker so I always negotiate anyway.

BARBARA MILLER: What are your tips for good negotiation?

VOX POP 5: Tips for good negotiation? (Laughs) Go in there and have a laugh, get them laughing and
if they're going to give you a discount they'll give you a discount. Anyway shouldn't we be paying
full price so we can create more jobs instead of getting less money into the economy?

BARBARA MILLER: Or there's always the lottery. This newsagency says they've definitely noticed a
change in customers' attitudes.

NEWSAGENCY WORKER: A lot of people actually, because there's now such a thing called a second
chance draw that you can do on the Internet with New South Wales lotteries and a lot of people take
their tickets back and they say like they're going to enter it because they're desperate. So you do
hear 'desperate' quite a bit these days.

They seem a little bit more upset when they don't win anything I think. I think that people are
just a little bit more obvious about their need for money.

ELEANOR HALL: That's a Sydney newsagent ending that report by Barbara Miller.