Is it acceptable for me to purchase ExpressionEngine and the required add-on licenses on behalf of my clients?
For some of my clients the process of getting them to purchase the right add-ons would certainly be a tedious process.
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I purchase EE and addon licenses for my clients unless they prefer to make the purchases for some reason. I keep them all in my company EllisLab and Devot-ee accounts until a client requests a transfer.
I keep them in company account for ease of use because I normally maintain the site after it's launched.
Devot-ee makes the addon license transfer process extremely easy. In the right column of the landing My Account page there is a "Transfer a license to another member" link. Click that link and you are presented with an easy interface for making the transfer.
EllisLab also allows for the transfer of ExpressionEngine licenses. First, have your customer register an account, then email sales (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the transfer request. Make sure to include the license number that should be transferred and your client’s ExpressionEngine.com username. Transfer can take a couple days and you'll get an email when it's complete.
That's exactly what I do. Generally the clients I have services don't even know what an add-on is, and they genuinely don't care. They just want their website to work. There are obvious drawbacks to this, like when a client leaves, or finds a new developer. Then the new developer can't download the updates since the client doesn't have the license.
Devotee allows people to transfer ownership of licenses, so I know a lot of people buy them initially and transfer once the project is finished. But this required everyone to use Devotee vs. developer sites directly.
In my mind, there is no perfect solution. Either the client is burdened with additional time and effort to purchase the license. Or the next developer to come along has to deal with the problem. Personally, I will be the problem on the dev over the client everyday of the week.