I've been in the RE business just 2 years. In my previous life I had my own computer company for over 20 yrs. where I was literally available to my customers and resellers 24/7 via my cell phone (my 1st cell was the Motorola 8000 "the brick", paid $2,400 plus $0.50 per minute, no pre-paid minutes, etc.)
I find it very troubling that 95% (no exaggeration) of the agents I ever try to contact never answer their phones, be it mobile, office, etc. Sometimes when I'm showing a house to a buyer, there's no key in the lockbox, the key in the lockbox doesn't work (4ht generation copy of original) they never tested, buyer's questions need immediate answers, SupraKey box was programmed to only open between 12noon and 6pm (listing agent had no clue this could be done), etc., etc.
When I'm with a buyer standing next to me (deposit check in his pocket) and call the listing agent's phones on the MLS printout, or on the for sale sign, because I can't get inside to show the house, I usually leave a message saying that they just lost a potential sale because they didn't pickup the phone and my client went to see other houses. (One for sale sign had a cell phone number that was disconnected. Very impressive!).
I asked many agents why they didn't pickup the phone and they said that if they did, they would never get any work done. I then asked them what kind of work? They said working on transactions. Then I remarked that they must not want any more sales, because this could have been another transaction.
Is this the standard practice, or is this just in SF Bay Area in California? I can't imagine a successful agent not answering their phones.