There are times when I can't get a kill or do decent damage to save my life, other times I kick ass and take names and do a 1000 or better regardless of what tank or tier I am in, I do find the (Harry Potter) bullet thing to be frustrating, that would be the bullet that goes through buildings, rocks, the ground, other tanks and kills you. Also the whole thing about a tank being completely invisible until after it kills you, or not showing up until your three feet from it. I also feel that if they can see me I should be able to see them, sometimes that doesn't happen.
I am definitely not a Stat padder as you put it, in fact I find the whole Stat thing thing to be completely useless for my own purposes. I don't team, clan, clan war or platoon unless my wife or son plays.
On average though I believe the game play to be reasonably fair, most of the time there is a two tier above or below stack when you load in. Obviously certain tanks are going to fair better against those higher tiers than others, you just have to learn to use cover, angles, manuverability, and a little luck better.
Learn to side scrape, maybe that will help. If done properly, almost any tank can do it.
Either way, the game play forces you to strive to get better or face and endless visit to your own tanks funeral.