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`$10 For Water! What's The Catch?'

Up Front: L.A. STORIES


Earthquake entrepreneurs are out in force in shaken Los Angeles, not all of them motivated by the angels.

Reports of water sold for $10 a gallon and four-packs of batteries for $25 are under investigation by the district attorney's office. A plumber charged one woman $850 for a half-hour's work, says head deputy D.A. Thomas Papageorge. Try out this outrage: One contractor charged $1,000 for a roof repair that another worker did for $50. Southland says it will withdraw 7-Eleven franchises from eight stores that allegedly took too big a gulp from customers.

Most business folk, though, are trying to build goodwill. Department store Robinson-May will skip finance charges for two years if customers replace their broken china and crystal there. Alamo Rent-A-Car gives residents of hard-hit areas a special $19-a-day rate for its economy car, at 27% off their normal rate.

References to the temblor abound in ads, many on the goofy side. Take electronics chain Affordable Portables, which advertises its cellular telephones as "earth-shattering specials."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT AND JULIE TILSNER Ronald Grover

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