Bill, i do not recall the 4-pack or the 2-pack product boxes coming in bags. If your friend is thinking back to the days when these sets came in a product box surrounded by a clear plastic bag with a piece of tape labeled "factory sealed", those days appear to be history.
All the importers are cutting corners everywhere they can. Last year, I purchased two "premium sets": Lionel's N&W Pocahontas passenger set, and an MTH CSX freight set with loco and Gunderson cars. Neither set came packaged inside a fancy "set box". Just individual product boxes packaged inside a brown shipping carton.
I see in another thread that MTH is due to ship the CSX Safety Train set in a couple of weeks, and I'm not expecting any set box for that set either. We'll know pretty soon.
In the big picture, there are certainly worse things to "get worked up over". So tell your friend to just enjoy the trains.