We run an ecommerce site that was setup by a third party ecommerce software provider, basic shop with product pages, basket and checkout.
The third party vendor set up the htaccess file so that if a non-existent URL is enetered it redirects to the homepage instead of a 404 error being generated.
This results in google webmaster reporting duplicate titles and descriptions for pages that no longer exist.
I think that it would be better for a dedicated 404 error page to be displayed rather than redirecting back to the homepage
So is it better to have a website redirect a 404 to the homepage than have a dedicated 404 page instead?