I'd MUCH rather talk to a person, but I can live with a Voice Mail system IF I believe that the person is not available. What REALLY gets me is to see folks at work, sitting at their desk, with their phone forwarded to VM! If it's one of my folks I ask them why, and sure hope they have a good answer! They've gotten the message: Very few reasons to have your phone forwarded toVM when you are sitting at your desk. Just downright rude!
I sprang for one of the Caller Id phones (only for internal numbers) so I can tell whose got their phones forwarded and whose actually on the line on another call. I've been known to take a stroll to the person's desk if I see that their phone is forwarded, and not just busy or no answer. Usually let them know I tried to call to see their reaction. Lot's of embaressed folks, and fun to hear their cover up stories (might even be tempted to use a few of the more inventive ones!)