I saw go with your own. Traffic-Exchange.com just recently wrote their own script like that for members to refer people into our program.
You don't have the ads and you can make message say what ever you want.
That help's alot.
Targeted 3:2 banner and button exchange offering 468x60 and 88x31 banner sizes. Features include real-time stats, multiple bannner support, referral program, ip logging, and more.
Well, I think it depends on what your needs are. Some people have no desire to mess with any type of scripts themselves, and hence the big attraction to the free hosted versions. If you want to handle the customization, of course you want to use your own. Either way, users would feel better if there was a link to a privacy statement somewhere, explaining that their emails are not being saved to a Spam list and sold all over the web!
We have offered a free hosted referral service for a little while now ( http://www.passiton.veinotte.com ) and found that offering different levels of service works well. We can offer the free version, and still make a little money by selling commercial versions that are customizable, and even one that we host and customize for the site that it is going on.
The biggest problem with free versions, besides the obvious such as reliability, server down time, etc, is that a service that is there today might be gone tomorrow. This is especially true of a free service that is not making money, normally through advertising.
If a service such as this is to succeed, the developers must be committed for the long haul, upgrading their resources as necessary, and upgrading and improving their service. None of this is likely to happen if there is no revenue involved.
We are releasing a new full featured version of our system within the next couple of days ( I hope! ). There will be ads in the follow-up page, and in the bottom of the email, and because of this we will be able to continue upgrading as we need to in order to serve the amount of bandwidth and ram this is going to be required as more users sign-up.
Just with our "old" version we are sending out over two thousand emails a day on a bad day. The highest has been well over ten. So, you can see why we would want a little compensation... It's just a cut-n-paste set-up, but people keep cutting and pasting.
With the new version we are going to offer several differnt options: use an image or a form, and whatever else we can dream up. The user will be able to edit their information at any time, including their site description, name, email, site title, default url, etc. They can view their stats, and delete their whole account any time they want. Development on this has taken more than a solid month, and I really don't know how many coding hours, and if I thought for a moment that we couldn't make some cash with it down the road, it would have been a trased project long before now. :-)
We want to offer as many options and features as we can, and keep it free. In order to do this, we have to find ways to generate income from it, and thereby ensure that we can upgrade resources and dedicate time to maintenance and improvements.
Anyway, I guess the bottom line, in my opinion, is that if you ae going with a free or hosted version, look closely to see if it is a fly-by-night site that is not making any money from it's operations. If there is no money, there is no incentive to keep the show running. One minute there are thousands of websites sending email's from someone's script, and then all of a sudden they are just sending server errors.
Wow - I didn't mean to write a book here!
Long past time for me to shut up!