Schools with good reputations get to have higher curves - more A's and B's and less Cs. At my school, most students get B's and B+'s. Getting a B- is the equivalent of getting a C or D at some other school.
One professor (who teaches at three other schools) complained that our curve is too generous; some students have complained that it's too harsh. It's really neither - it's really how your GPA compares overall to the school.
We don't get actual class rankings, though - just approximate percentile benchmarks. Thus we have to write in a resume (for example):
GPA = 3.44 (approximate top 25% = 3.39).
I hate that we have to make it unclear on our resume, but that's the friggin rule.